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