‘Cagney & Lacey’ star reveals how she once hit on Rosie O’Donnell

Photo by David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

A beloved TV actor is revealing the veritable ups and downs that come with being a Hollywood legend within the lesbian community, even though she’s straight herself.

Ever since Sharon Gless starred in the hit police procedural and ’80s buddy cop drama Cagney & Lacey, in which she played the titular career-minded single woman detective Christine Cagney, Gless has been an icon and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, according to the New York Post.

Gless would later star in the Showtime drama Queer As Folk in the mid-2000s. After sharing an on-screen kiss with guest star Rosie O’Donnell for an episode in 2005, Gless revealed in her memoir that the comedian sent her a bouquet of red roses with a note that said, “You’re a good kisser.”

“I was flattered,” Gless wrote in her new book, Apparently There Are Complaints. “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,” the 78-year-old actor added.

This show of appreciation from O’Donnell made Gless wonder if she was attracted to women after all, later describing the moment as feeling “confused” about her sexuality. She later remarked to O’Donnell over dinner, “Ro, I love you so much. I mean, do you feel… do you think?”

However, O’Donnell’s response was an apparent reality check, with the comedian replying with a smile: “Oh, Glessy, no. Never. You are so straight.”

Gless, who was married at the time, wrote she was “disappointed and very relieved.”

“Well, I gave it my best fucking shot with the number one lesbian on the planet,” Gless writes of Rosie O’Donnell in the book. “And she turned me down flat.”

There’s a number of other strange stories in the book as well, not all of which as lighthearted. In one case, Gless recounts the time she received the obsessive attention of a female stalker named Joneigh Lee Penn. The saga culminated in the woman, who was attracted to Gless, threatening to sexually assault and kill the actress along with herself.

Penn was imprisoned for six years as a result, and the case ultimately helped the State of California make stricter laws regarding the release of personal information through the Department of Motor Vehicles, thanks to the Emmy Award-winner’s testimony to the Superior Court of California in Sacramento.