Kirstie Alley once transformed her Isleboro mansion into a haunted house to delight her children and their friends.
The extravagant event was filled with scares and a fun feast.
“The haunted house was amazing,” said island resident Linda “Loony” Mahan, whose children are the same age as Alley’s. “She had local people and friends of hers and just went all out to make every [room] scary in her home.”
That’s among the memories that Islesboro residents shared of the 71-year-old actress who died Monday of cancer that was only recently discovered, according to an announcement from her children, True and Lillie Parker.
Alley bought the former Islesboro Inn in 1991. She stayed in the home most summers and holidays until she sold it in 2020. She also was deeply involved in the community.
“She knew everybody, she loved everybody, she just blended in,” said Sharon Hall, Alley’s former housekeeper.
Over the years, Alley hosted events at her home, always had a float in the Fourth of July parade, raised money for different town initiatives like renovating the Islesboro library and ran Christmas dinners at a church on the island for people spending the holiday alone, according to Hall and Mahan.
“Everyone thought of her as a friend,” Hall said.
Rory Benjamin, an Islesboro native, remembers Alley not as an actress but the woman who helped him learn how to ice skate.
Benjamin was nine years old when he and his sister wandered on to Alley’s property to play on her pond. They were in their boots when Alley offered them pairs of new ice skates. Alley’s father, Robert Deal Alley, then taught the Benjamins how to skate on that pond.
“It speaks to her down-to-earth character and generosity. She really always fit in as one of the islanders,” he said.
Hall, who was Alley’s housekeeper and nanny for 16 years, said she and Alley once dressed up in Alley’s children’s costumes as monsters and clowns and drove around Islesboro blasting music and visited other islanders.
“She was just fun to be around … and real” she said.
Hall and Mahan were both fans of Alley’s work, from the television series “Cheers” to the 1994 movie “David’s Mother.”
But despite her fame, locals really respected her privacy, Mahan said. When people often asked where Alley’s house was, Hall said residents would lie and say she didn’t live on the island.
“The island people treated her just like one of us, and they protected her,” Hall said. “People tried to respect her privacy, and people weren’t so star struck by her.”
Mahan said that is perhaps why Alley felt so comfortable on Islesboro and was able to connect with the community.
“She really loved it here because she was able to have privacy and be in a beautiful place, make a lot of friends,” Mahan said.
Hall and Mahan will miss Alley and her spontaneity, adventurousness, humor, generosity and sincerity. And everyone on Islesboro will miss Alley’s presence and friendship, Hall said.
“She would come in like a hurricane,” Mahan said. “And she took up a lot of space, but she was exciting and fun and beautiful.”