But less well-known is a spiritual awakening she says she's experienced that's enabled her to come to grips with the added pounds, and be more in touch with who she is.
Alley tells Hattie Kauffman of The Early Show, "I recently had an awakening that I had a body (chuckle). I spent a long time trying to work on myself and trying to make myself a more aware being, spiritually."
And while paparazzi have had a field day making fun of her new size, Alley is planning to turn the tables on her critics with a comedy/reality show due to premiere on Showtime next year. The title? "Fat Actress."
"So many women applaud you for saying, 'This is who I am and I'm happy. Accept me,'" Kauffman observes.
"Ha! Well, you know, I'm not a big go-under-the-knife girl," Alley replies. She says she shuns surgery such as liposuction, and thinks plastic surgery in general makes women look, well, plastic, artificial, not younger.
Alley is perhaps best known for her Emmy-winning role on the 80's sitcom "Cheers." She parlayed that fame into her own comedy, "Veronica's Closet." Along with TV success came films, most notably, "Look Who's Talking."
Asked by Kaufman if she ever thinks about the fact that she has fans who've discovered her at different points in her career, Alley says, "You go through these evolutions. Here's the "Cheers" girl. Here's the "Veronica's Closet" girl. Here's the "Look Who's Talking" girl. …You have to keep reinventing yourself. I guess that's why I wanted to be an actress in the first place.
Alley stars in a made-for-TV movie Sunday night called "While I Was Gone," based on the best-selling novel of the same name. She plays a veterinarian haunted by a traumatic incident in her past.