ISLESBORO, Maine — Actress Kirstie Alley has sold her home on Islesboro, and is packing up to leave the island community she’s been part of for nearly 30 years.
But she hopes to come back, the 69-year-old Emmy winner said in an open letter she wrote to her friends on the island, which was shared Thursday morning on the Islesboro, Maine Facebook group.
“I love Islesboro and will miss you all,” Alley wrote. “My family and I have had some of the most memorable times of our lives here. We hope to return for more summers in the future. To any of you here who have touched our lives, thank you.”
In the letter, she said she wanted to reassure islanders that although she had to come back to move out of her Pendleton Point Road house, she takes COVID-19 seriously and has taken all possible precautions against it. Alley said she had been quarantined in Wichita, Kansas since March 1, until she flew in a private plane this week to Rockland.
“Then I literally stepped off the plane into a rental car sitting on the tarmac in Rockland that had not been rented for over a month, and like the plane had been fully sanitized,” she wrote in the letter. “I wore a mask and gloves on the three-hour plane ride and in my rental car … I’m telling you this in great detail because I don’t want you to think I would do anything to endanger any of you.”
But islanders seemed more interested in remembering fun times with Alley than worrying about the chance her coming to pack up the house could endanger them. The actress first came to Islesboro in 1991, when she and her then-husband, Parker Stevenson of the 1970s TV show “Hardy Boys,” purchased the 21-bedroom Mitchell Cottage, which formerly had been the Islesboro Inn.
“We were all very proud to welcome her. She brought a lot of zing to the island,” Diana Roberts said of the actress. “She’s funny as can be, and she would talk to anybody. I think she’s pretty down-to-earth.”
They were not the last Hollywood stars to come to the island. John Travolta, her friend and fellow Scientologist, purchased a mansion on Islesboro with his wife, Kelly Preston, just a few months after Alley and Stevenson bought their first home there. They remain part-time residents of Islesboro.
Alley, who starred in the hit sitcom “Cheers,” the three “Look Who’s Talking” movies and was the runner-up on Season 12 of “Dancing with the Stars,” was at the height of her fame in the 1990s when she first came to the island. But she was no snob, and fit right in to the island community.
“When she and Parker first moved and bought the Islesboro Inn, they gussied it up, had it all decorated, and then threw what they called ‘Pea Stone Balls’ in the driveway,” Roberts said. “It was so much fun. The whole island was invited.”
Alley and Stevenson adopted their two children in Maine, and Roberts remembers idling off the dock at Lincolnville with her husband in their “funky, really dirty” fishing boat the day that Alley brought their baby daughter home to the island.
“She was running down the dock, chased by the paparazzi,” Roberts said, adding that they called out to her to ask if she wanted a lift. “She just hopped on our boat and we took them home. That was Lily’s first introduction to the island.”
Alley and Stevenson also hosted weekly softball games that were open to everyone.
“That was a great, fun thing,” Roberts said.
As well, locals fondly remember the time that Alley presented a world premiere of her 1993 movie “Look Who’s Talking Now” for island school children at the Strand Theater in Rockland. According to an article from the BDN archives, the “Islesboro critics” gave the early preview a rousing applause, and Alley — who was described as being “aggressively unpretentious,” patiently answered the children’s questions after the movie.
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A few years after the couple’s 1997 divorce, in which Stevenson got the Mitchell Cottage, Alley purchased another home on Islesboro — a smaller, wooden home overlooking a cove on Gilkey Harbor. She decorated the home in a country cottage scheme, complete with a pink kitchen and floral fabrics everywhere.
“Somebody once said that the inside looks like a pink cupcake exploded,” Roberts said.
Over the years, Alley has remained a vibrant addition to the community. She has been a stalwart member of an exercise class, Roberts said, and has been an enthusiastic participant in local traditions such as the Fourth of July parade, adding a bit of Hollywood glitz to the down-home Maine line-up.
“They would have the best float,” Roberts said.
Information about who purchased the house was not immediately available, although Alley wrote in her letter that she had sold it to a “wonderful new family.” Her son, True, wrote on Facebook that the family intends to continue coming up to Maine in the summer to continue the “amazing tradition” they have had for many years. Islanders, including Roberts, would love to see that happen.
“We’re going to miss Kirstie,” she said.