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Kirstie Alley buys Presley mansion
By THOMAS C. TOBIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2000
CLEARWATER -- Lisa Marie Presley has sold her sprawling waterfront home to fellow celebrity Kirstie Alley, star of television and movies.
The 5,200-square-foot residence overlooking Clearwater Harbor had been on the market more than two years.
Presley, the daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, purchased the home for $1.2-million in 1996.
Alley's Los Angeles publicist, Nancy Kane, did not respond to questions about why her client was interested in purchasing property in Clearwater. Neither did Presley's publicist when Presley moved to the city four years ago.
One clue, however, is the home's proximity to the Church of Scientology's campus in downtown Clearwater, just a few blocks away.
Both women are longtime Scientologists and highly visible advocates for the church and its causes. They also are part of what the church says is a major influx of Scientologists to the area over the past four years.
An estimated 10,000 Scientologists live in Clearwater and surrounding communities, say church officials, who four years ago were giving estimates of 6,000.
In Clearwater, which is the church's spiritual headquarters, Scientologists get high-level Scientology counseling available nowhere else.
Alley, 45, has been particularly active in the church, founding a Scientology mission in her hometown of Wichita, Kan. She also is the international spokeswoman for Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program sponsored by Scientology.
Alley has said she was living in Wichita and using cocaine in 1979 when a friend gave her a copy of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the book by L. Ron Hubbard that led to the founding of Scientology. "I thought, "This either really works or it doesn't,' " she once told the Scientology magazine Celebrity. "So I packed up and moved to Los Angeles to find out."
Alley said in that 1988 interview that she probably would have been an actor without Scientology, but that her Scientology counseling made her career climb easier.
Alley became known to millions of television viewers as Rebecca Howe in the hit NBC series Cheers. Less well-received was the more recent series Veronica's Closet, which the network announced on Monday would be canceled for next season.
Mike Rinder, a top Scientology official, said Alley was not coming to Clearwater in any official capacity with the church. He added he knew nothing about Alley's plans.
The home in the Old Clearwater Bay neighborhood north of downtown features a waterfront pool, a spa, a large patio and a dock that Presley expanded 150 feet into the harbor. Presley also added a 200-yard protective wall around the property.
While Presley lived there, neighbors sometimes saw her jogging with security guards, who were always present at the gates.
Then as now, the home is one of the jewels in an eclectic neighborhood of single-family homes and aging rental units. On one side is a gated residence valued at $500,000 for tax purposes. On the other, a modest one-story home valued at $40,000.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.