Sharon Gless

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Sharon Gless remembers the moment she decided to pursue her dream of acting, while in her mid-20s: "One of my jobs was to interview actresses [at a film company] who would meet my boss, and then I'd go in and read with them. I was getting $200 a week, and these actresses were getting a lot more money. I thought I was better than they were in the readings. So I stopped being afraid— the dream had always stayed in the back of my mind." Sharon Gless has starred in numerous television series but is most associated with her Emmy-winning performance as "Christine Cagney" in Cagney & Lacey.

In her three-hour Archive interview, Gless talks about growing up in Los Angeles (with some familial connections to the entertainment business) and her early interest in acting. She recalls her days as a contract player in television at Universal, eventually cast as a regular in the detective drama Switch. She comments briefly on her first starring television series, Turnabout, with a pilot co-written by Steven Bochco. She relates how she was approached for Cagney & Lacey (initially the television movie and later the series) and her eventual casting, replacing Meg Foster. For Cagney & Lacey, she discusses her initial dispute over billing, describes her character "Christine Cagney," gives her impressions of the ensemble, comments on memorable storylines and makes mention of the reunion television movies. She recalls the impact of the series: "We were the first women—first actresses—that had ever been honored by the New York Police Department. There was a big, huge thing; the Chief of Police was there. And they honored us for the quality of work we were doing in portraying them. How cool is that?" On her subsequent series The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, she notes how she felt the part was the polar opposite of "Cagney." She then chronicles her work in a number of cable television series, particularly Showtime's Queer as Folk (for which she essentially cast herself), F/X's Nip/Tuck (taking inspiration from Judi Dench's autobiography about playing villainous characters), and USA Network's Burn Notice (playing, as she describes, "the mother from hell"). In their interview together, Gless and her husband, producer Barney Rosenzweig talk about their work together and their personal relationship. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview, consisting of two parts: two-and-a-half hours with Gless solely and thirty minutes with Barney Rosenzweig, in North Hollywood, CA on October 15, 2008.

"I just have a special love for doing a TV series that lasts a long time, and having a family."

Highlights
Sharon Gless on how executive producer (and husband-to-be) Barney Rosenzweig "found" her for Cagney & Lacey
01:39
Sharon Gless on working out the kinks of the "Christine Cagney" character with writer Barbara Corday, and becoming the "toughie" of the two main characters
02:53
Sharon Gless on the chemistry between her and Tyne Daly on Cagney & Lacey
01:15
Sharon Gless on being accepted by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman for the part of "Debbie" on Queer as Folk
02:26
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly surprising her on the set of Burn Notice
00:40
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On growing up in Los Angeles; on her desire to act
16:00
On a turning point that set her on the path to acting and taking an acting class
08:53
On her first acting gig; on signing a contract with Universal Studios and being the last contract player
08:20
On shows she worked on at Universal and how Robert Wagner "saved" her from being let go from the studio
08:58
On the lead-up to getting Cagney & Lacey; on meeting future husband Barney Rosenzweig
13:31
On fine-tuning the character of "Christine Cagney"
02:55

Chapter 2

On the character of "Christine Cagney"
10:16
On the gender of Cagney & Lacey's stars; on Tyne Daly; on being honored by the New York Police Department
08:41
On actors she worked with on Cagney & Lacey
07:02
On how Cagney & Lacey was revived by a letter-writing campaign; on what was groundbreaking about the show
07:08
On Tyne Daly and Gless winning multiple Emmys for Cagney & Lacey; on episodes that won Emmys and other memorable episodes
08:29
On her relationship with Barney Rosenzweig; on her disappointment with the Cagney & Lacey TV movies; on what happened to her character and the show's end
07:18
On The Trials of Rosie O'Neill and her feeling about the show
03:55
On getting cast in Queer as Folk; on support from the gay community; on playing another mother on Burn Notice
07:48

Chapter 3

On older women finding great parts on TV; on appearing in a villainous guest role on Nip/Tuck
On appearing with Lillian Gish in the TV movie Hobson's Choice and playing "Annie Wilkes" in the play "Misery"
On the importance of work in her life; on how she wants to be remembered, and some advice

Chapter 4

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH BARNEY ROSENZWEIG: On how they met and casting Sharon Gless as the third and final "Cagney" on Cagney & Lacey; on fighting with each other on set
10:51
On interacting with the fans of Cagney & Lacey and Queer as Folk
09:35
On developing the story arc about alcoholism on Cagney & Lacey
05:36
On not living in Los Angeles; on their professional relationship and how they fell in love; on their favorite stories about each other
11:55
Shows

Burn Notice

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Sharon Gless on playing "Madeline Weston" on Burn Notice and parts for actresses on TV
01:09

Cagney & Lacey

View Show Page
Sharon Gless on how Barney Rosenzweig "found" her for Cagney & Lacey
01:39
Sharon Gless on her initial reluctance to play "Christine Cagney" on Cagney & Lacey and how she finally took the role
08:45
Sharon Gless on working out the kinks of the "Christine Cagney" character with writer Barbara Corday, and becoming the "toughie" of the two main characters on Cagney & Lacey
05:33
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly being on her side when Gless started on Cagney & Lacey as the "third Cagney" that had been cast
01:26
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly and Gless being honored by the New York Police Department for Cagney & Lacey
01:08
Sharon Gless on presenting alcoholism in the two-part episode "Turn Turn Turn," for which she won an Emmy, and the controversial "The City is Burning" episode of Cagney & Lacey
03:42
Sharon Gless on her extreme disappointment with what happened to her character in the TV movies of Cagney & Lacey, the end of the franchise, and her ideas about what should have happened with her character
05:38
Sharon Gless on her acceptance by the gay community since Cagney and through Queer as Folk
01:01
Barney Rosenzweig on not being a "hyphenate," but on primarily being the producer of Cagney & Lacey
00:40
Sharon Gless and Barney Rosenzweig on making last minute tweaks ("writing with an eraser") on Cagney & Lacey
02:09
Sharon Gless on getting letters from female cops who went into the field because of Cagney & Lacey
01:09
Barney Rosenzweig and Sharon Gless on developing the theme of alcoholism for "Christine Cagney" and her father on Cagney & Lacey
05:36

Marcus Welby, M.D.

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Sharon Gless on her first job, which she got as a contract player for Unversal Studios
00:37

Nip/Tuck

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Sharon Gless on her villainous guest-starring role on Nip/Tuck
03:14

Queer as Folk

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Sharon Gless on wanting to be cast as "Debbie" and being accepted by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman for the part, and being embraced by the gay community since Cagney and through Queer as Folk
04:08
Sharon Gless on being hugged by fans, and the impact of Queer as Folk
01:41

Switch

View Show Page
Sharon Gless on how Robert Wagner "saved her career" by putting her in Switch in 1975
02:49

Trials of Rosie O'Neill, The

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Sharon Gless on working with her husband, Cagney & Lacey producer Barney Rosenzweig again for The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, and audience response to the show
02:31

Turnabout

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Sharon Gless on her first starring role in the short-lived series Turnabout
01:39
Topics

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Sharon Gless on advice she cherishes from Cagney & Lacey co-star John Karlen, who played "Harvey Lacey"
00:55
Sharon Gless on using Judi Dench's autobiography to inspire her villainous guest starring role on Nip/Tuck
02:02

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Sharon Gless on not experiencing sexism as an actress in the 1970s
00:53

Drama

View Topic
Sharon Gless on presenting alcoholism in the two-part "Turn Turn Turn" episode on Cagney & Lacey, and winning an Emmy for it
01:47
Sharon Gless on the controversial Cagney & Lacey episode "The City is Burning" and her character's sometimes offensive attitudes
01:55
Sharon Gless and Cagney & Lacey executive producer Barney Rosenzweig on developing the theme of alcoholism for "Christine Cagney" and her father on the show
05:36

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Sharon Gless and Barney Rosenzweig on Gless "finally" winning an Emmy for Cagney & Lacey
02:22

Fame & Celebrity

View Topic
Sharon Gless and Barney Rosenzweig on getting recognized by and interacting with fans
04:14
Sharon Gless on being hugged by fans, and the impact of Queer as Folk
01:41

Television Industry

View Topic
Sharon Gless and Barney Rosenzweig on getting recognized by and interacting with fans
04:14
Sharon Gless on being hugged by fans, and the impact of Queer as Folk
01:41

Women

View Topic
Sharon Gless on not experiencing sexism as an actress in the 1970s
00:53
Sharon Gless on being more interested in the complicated character of "Christine Cagney" than being a "role model for the '80s"
03:26
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Sharon Gless on what caused her to lose her fear of pursuing acting
00:42
Sharon Gless on why being on a hit TV show is her favorite acting experience
00:36

Performers

View Profession
Sharon Gless on what caused her to lose her fear of pursuing acting
00:42
Sharon Gless on why being on a hit TV show is her favorite acting experience
00:36
Sharon Gless on the chemistry between her and Tyne Daly: it's either there or it isn't, and it was there on Cagney & Lacey
01:12
Sharon Gless on being accepted by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman for the part of "Debbie" on Queer as Folk
02:08

Producers

View Profession
Cagney & Lacey executive producer Barney Rosenzweig on not being a "hyphenate," but on primarily being the producer of Cagney & Lacey
00:40
Cagney & Lacey executive producer Barney Rosenzweig on making last minute tweaks to the show
02:09
Barney Rosenzweig and Sharon Gless on developing the theme of alcoholism for "Christine Cagney" and her father on Cagney & Lacey
05:36
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Sharon Gless on the lead-up to getting Cagney & Lacey; on meeting future husband Barney Rosenzweig
13:31
Sharon Gless on fine-tuning the character of "Christine Cagney" on Cagney & Lacey
02:55
Sharon Gless on creating a realistic cop show, and on Tyne Daly and Gless being honored by the New York Police Department for Cagney & Lacey
01:09

Drama Series

View Genre
Sharon Gless on the lead-up to getting Cagney & Lacey; on meeting future husband Barney Rosenzweig
13:31
Sharon Gless on fine-tuning the character of "Christine Cagney" on Cagney & Lacey
02:55
People

Steven Bochco

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Sharon Gless on Steven Bochco, who co-wrote the pilot for the short-lived Turnabout, in which she starred
01:13

Barbara Corday

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Sharon Gless on working out the kinks of the "Christine Cagney" character with Barbara Corday on Cagney & Lacey 
02:55

Ron Cowen

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Sharon Gless on being accepted by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman for the part of "Debbie" on Queer as Folk
02:08

Tyne Daly

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Sharon Gless on negotiating with Tyne Daly over first billing on Cagney & Lacey, and forming the foundation for friendship
02:00
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly's graciousness in allowing Gless's "Cagney" character be the "toughie" on Cagney & Lacey
01:08
Sharon Gless on playing opposite another woman on Cagney & Lacey
00:25
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly being on her side when Gless started on Cagney & Lacey as the "third Cagney" that had been cast
01:26
Sharon Gless on Tyne Daly showing up on the set of Burn Notice
00:44
Sharon Gless on walking down the streets of New York with Tyne Daly and the reaction of fans
01:46

Monique James

View Person Page
Sharon Gless on the unique quality that talent agent Monique James saw in her
01:05

John Karlen

View Person Page
Sharon Gless on advice she cherishes from Cagney & Lacey co-star John Karlen
01:11

Daniel Lipman

View Person Page
Sharon Gless on being accepted by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman for the part of "Debbie" on Queer as Folk
02:08

Leslie Moonves

View Interview Page
Sharon Gless on not liking the changes to the "Cagney" character in the Cagney & Lacey TV movies, but still wanting the the show to continue, and her frank disappointment with Moonves, feeling that he "destroyed" the Cagney & Lacey franchise
03:50

Dick O'Neill

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Sharon Gless on O'Neill, who played her father on Cagney & Lacey
01:11

Barney Rosenzweig

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Sharon Gless on how Barney Rosenzweig "found" Sharon Gless for Cagney & Lacey
01:55
Sharon Gless on her rocky first meeting with husband-to-be Barney Rosenzweig to discuss being on Cagney & Lacey
02:10
Sharon Gless on working with Barney Rosenzweig, and the sometimes all-consuming nature of working on Cagney & Lacey
01:40

Robert Wagner

View Person Page
Sharon Gless on how Robert Wagner "saved her career" by putting her in the show Switch in 1975
02:49

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