Christine Cagney, the NYPD detective, is a kickass character in the hit TV series. “Cagney and Lacey,”Sharon Gless was a lesbian icon.
In her new memoir, she now “Apparently There Were Complaints,” (Simon & Schuster) out Dec. 7, the 78-year-old Californian admits to hitting on Rosie O’Donnell after suddenly feeling “confused”About her sexuality.
In 2005, O’Donnell made a guest appearance on Gless’ Showtime drama “Queer As Folk”In which they shared an on-screen kiss. After the show, the comedian sent her star a bouquet of red roses with a note that read: “You’re a good kisser.”
“I was flattered,”Gless explains it in her book. “It was the first time I’d heard that from a woman. But, then again, it was the first time I’d ever kissed a woman.”
Gless was intrigued by the comment and wondered if women were attractive to her, she writes.
Sharon Gless (far right), who played a tough police detective on a popular 80s show, became a lesbian icon. CBS
Later, she was having dinner with O’Donnell when she turned to the comedian and said: “Ro, I love you so much. I mean, do you feel….do you think?”
She recalls the dinner and adds, “I didn’t even know what I was expecting. I was obviously confused.”
She reveals that she is not. “Rosie was not.”
Rosie O’Donnell made a guest appearance on “Queer as Folk”Gless and she shared an onscreen kiss. Showtime Networks Inc.
The Long Islander smiled, and said: “Oh, Glessy, no. Never. You are so straight.”
O’Donnell and Gless pose backstage on a family vacation cruise.FilmMagic
Gless, who was married (as was O’Donnell at the time), goes on to write: “I was disappointed and very relieved.”
Then, address your fans “Cagney & Lacey” who might have assumed she’d been gay all along, she quipped: “Well, I gave it my best f–king shot with the number one lesbian on the planet.
“And she turned me down flat.”
A long-time supporter of LGBT and women’s rights, Gless is fully aware that her campaigning — together with her casting as Cagney — has helped make her an object of desire for lesbians.
She was not prepared for the attention of Joneigh Lee Penn, a gay stalker who followed her around and threatened to sexually assault her, but she was able to make it through.
Gless gave evidence at the trial, explaining how she’d first met the woman when she’d showed up at the “Cagney & Lacey”Set with a bunch flowers. Not thinking much of it, Gless obliged her request for a hug and thanked her for a large number of complimentary letters she’d sent to her assistant.
But things took a turn for the worse when Gless was forced to seek a restraining order after receiving a letter from Penn’s psychiatrist that stated, “Although this patient has no destructive intent toward you, she did plan to shoot herself in front of you.”
Defying the order, the fan somehow managed to get into Gless’ LA home in May 1990 when the star wasn’t there to steal her personal address book and some underwear from her drawers.
Sharon Gless, left, with Tyne Daly, in a scene taken from “Cagney & Lacy”©CBS/Courtesy Everett Collectio
Worse, she later returned home to the house with a rifle in her head and told a female security officer: “If you come one step closer, I’m going to kill myself.”The standoff lasted seven hours after a SWAT team arrived. Only after a female SWAT team officer thought of lying to the intruder, and saying that Gless was waiting outside to speak with Penn, did Penn finally give in to her will to surrender.
In her book, Sharon Gless also details her experience with a dangerous gay stalker.©CBS/Courtesy Everett Collectio
“She had a shy grin on her face,”In her memoir, the actress writes. “She was looking around for me.”
Gless was horrified to learn from police that Penn had several hundred rounds in her ammo and planned to force her to have sexual relations before killing her. Then she would turn the gun on herself.
Gless writes that her motive for the murder/suicide is so “we could be in heaven together.”
“I escaped a violent death at the hands of a stalker,”She grimly ends her sentence.
The ordeal did produce some positive outcomes. The Screen Actors Guild summoned the star to appear before Sacramento’s Superior Court of California. She was to tell her disturbing tale.
“I did,”Gless recalls this in her book. “The laws on releasing personal information through the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] were permanently changed that day.”