NEW YORK – Bubbly blond "Cheers" star Shelley Long (search) - depressed over the bust-up of her marriage - was rushed to the hospital after taking an overdose of painkillers in an apparent suicide bid.
The 55-year-old actress, who played ditzy waitress Diane Chambers on the classic TV sitcom, was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after the heartbreaking incident.
Long had been extremely depressed in recent months, was barely eating and often spent long periods of time in bed, said friends, speculating that she tried to kill herself. "It is very sad to see this woman, who is only 55, looking like she's turning 90," one pal told The Sun newspaper of London.
Another friend said, "For 18 months, she's been getting more and more depressed. It's like seeing someone falling off a cliff.
"She told some of her good friends she felt she had nothing to live for."
The incident took place Nov. 16, and hospital records show that Long was discharged Tuesday. Her mom, in a brief telephone interview, confirmed to The Post that her daughter is no longer in the hospital.
In a weird twist, Long once played a depressed woman committed to a hospital for depression in the 1979 TV movie "The Cracker Factory."
She's not the only "Cheers" cast member to have been felled by depression — Kelsey Grammer, too, has also had severe bouts with the blues.
Things got rough for the actress last year, when her securities-broker husband, Bruce Tyson, walked out after 22 years of marriage. They are now divorcing, and Long had to leave their Hollywood mansion when it was sold. She now lives alone.
She met Tyson on a blind date in 1979. They were wed two years later — it was her second marriage — and have a daughter, Juliana, 19.
The actress starred in several films since bolting "Cheers" in 1987, six years before it ended in 1993.
Among the flicks were 1995's "The Brady Bunch Movie," in which she played Carol Brady, and 2000's "Dr. T and the Women."
Many see her career as a classic example of what happens to some TV stars who give up popular roles to seek movie fame.
She never regained the popularity she enjoyed as the overeducated "Cheers" barmaid, who was a foil to bar owner Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson.
She's slated for a rare, pretaped guest appearance tonight in the ABC series "Complete Savages."
For "Cheers, " she won an Emmy and two Golden Globes.
Eddie Doyle, the real-life Ted Danson who's served drinks for 30 years at the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston, the bar on which Cheers was based, said:
"I'm just really surprised and hope she's going to be all right. I guess they say things like that happen around the holidays."