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Sharon Gless
Gless in 1998
Sharon Marguerite Gless

(1943-05-31) May 31, 1943 (age 80)
Years active1970–present
Known for
(m. 1991)

Sharon Marguerite Gless (born May 31, 1943) is an American actress known for her television roles. She portrayed Maggie Philbin on Switch (1975–78), Sgt. Christine Cagney in the police procedural drama series Cagney & Lacey (1982–88), and played the title role in The Trials of Rosie O'Neill (1990–92). She was Debbie Novotny in the Showtime cable television series Queer as Folk (2000–2005) and Madeline Westen on Burn Notice (2007–2013).

A 10-time Emmy Award nominee[1] and seven-time Golden Globe Award nominee, she won a Golden Globe in 1986[2] and Emmys in 1986 and 1987 for Cagney & Lacey,[1] and a second Golden Globe in 1991 for The Trials of Rosie O'Neill.[2] She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.[3]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Sharon Gless Wins Best Actress in a TV Series Drama - Golden Globes 1986
  • Sharon Gless Opens Up About Career, Alcoholism and Women's Progress in New Memoir | The View
  • Golden Globes 1991 Sharon Gless and Patricia Wettig both win the Award for Best Actress
  • Tyne Daly Wins Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for CAGNEY & LACEY | Emmys Archive (1983)
  • Sharon Gless


Early life and career

A fifth-generation Californian, Gless was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Marjorie (McCarthy) and sportswear manufacturing executive Dennis J. Gless. She grew up Catholic.[4] She has two brothers, Michael McCarthy Gless and Arick Dennis Gless. Her parents divorced when she was in her teens.[4]

Her maternal grandfather was Neil McCarthy,[5] a prominent Los Angeles attorney for Howard Hughes who had a large clientele of major film-studio executives and actors. Wanting to become an actress, she asked her grandfather's opinion. He told her, "Stay out of it, it's a filthy business!"[5] A few years later, though, when she spoke to him again about acting, he encouraged her and gave her money for acting classes.[6][7]

Gless worked as a secretary for advertising agencies Grey Advertising and Young & Rubicam, and then for the independent movie production companies Sassafras Films and General Film Corporation.[citation needed]

While she worked as a production assistant, Gless studied drama with acting coach Estelle Harman.[8] In 1972, she signed a 7-year contract with Universal Studios, and remained under contract until Universal ended all contracts in 1981.[9] Near the end of her contract, she was identified in the media as the last of the contract players.[10] Universal was the last company to use the salaried, old Hollywood apprentice system.

Actress Elizabeth Baur was Gless' cousin.[11]


Film and television

From left: Arthur Hill, Michael Witney, Gless, John Davidson and Louise Sorel on ABC's Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (1972)

At the beginning of her career, Gless appeared in numerous television series and TV movies, such as Revenge of the Stepford Wives, Faraday & Company with Dan Dailey and James Naughton in 1973 and 1974, Adam-12 season six, episode 24, Emergency! as a sculptor in 1975, and The Rockford Files. She played small parts in Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976), until being offered the role of Kathleen Faverty, which she played from 1974 to 1976. That was in addition to a variety of guest-starring roles on television, including the part of the classy young secretary, Maggie Philbin, alongside Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner on the CBS private detective/con artist series Switch (1975–1978). Although she was a newcomer on the show, she got along very well with both Albert and Wagner, both on and off-screen. When the show was canceled after the third season, she thanked both Albert and Wagner for giving her career a jump start and remained close friends with them.

While under contract with Universal, she co-starred in a number of properties, including the 1979 Steven Bochco television sitcom, Turnabout (based on the Thorne Smith 1931 novel about a husband and wife who temporarily switch bodies), which failed to be a ratings blockbuster, and briefly in the sitcom House Calls (in which she replaced Lynn Redgrave, who had left due to a contract dispute).

Beginning with the series' seventh episode / first full season, Gless replaced actress Meg Foster in the role of NYPD police detective Christine Cagney on Cagney & Lacey. (The role was originated in the pilot installment, by Loretta Swit. Swit, like Foster, was chosen as Cagney because although the character of Cagney had been created with Gless herself in mind, she was unavailable for the pilot or the first seven installments of the first season.) In 1991, she married the series' executive producer, Barney Rosenzweig, who speaks in his book Cagney & Lacey...and Me about wanting Sharon Gless from the beginning and Gless being unavailable due to her contract with Universal. Rosenzweig created the 1990–1992 CBS drama series The Trials of Rosie O'Neill for Gless, and uncredited she played a psychiatrist, who was only partially seen. She has received six Emmy nominations–including two wins and a Golden Globe win for her role as Cagney–earned two additional Emmy nominations and a second Golden Globe win for the series.

Gless at the Emmy Awards 1991

In 1993 and 1995, Gless and her television partner, Tyne Daly, recreated their title roles in four critically acclaimed as well as popular Cagney & Lacey television movies. Gless and Daly jokingly called these "The Menopause Years". In 1998, Gless narrated the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Between 2000 and 2005, Gless appeared as Hal Sparks' mother, Debbie Novotny, in her biggest and most critically acclaimed role since Cagney & Lacey in the acclaimed Showtime cable television series Queer as Folk. In 2000, she appeared on an episode of Touched by an Angel entitled "The Perfect Game". On May 26, 2005, she was one of the mourners at Eddie Albert's funeral, along with ex-Switch co-stars Robert Wagner and Charlie Callas.

In 2006, Gless starred in the BBC television series The State Within. The next year she co-starred in the USA Network cable television series Burn Notice, playing Michael Westen's (Jeffrey Donovan) mother, Madeline Westen.[12] In addition, Gless was a guest star on several episodes of the FX Network cable television series Nip/Tuck as an unstable agent, Colleen Rose, a role that netted her an Emmy Award nomination. In 2009, Gless starred in her first leading role as a lesbian character in the independent film Hannah Free (Ripe Fruit Films), described as a film about a lifelong love affair between an independent spirit and the woman she calls home. The film is based on a screenplay by the Jeff Award-winning playwright Claudia Allen and directed by Wendy Jo Carlton.

In 2017, Gless was announced as appearing in one episode of the BBC's Casualty, the world's longest-running medical drama, as surgeon Zsa Zsa Harper-Jenkinson. She appears in the 13th episode of the serial's 32nd series. Gless called Zsa Zsa a "wonderful character".[13] Gless was invited to appear in the show by one of the producers, and expressed interest in reprising the role. Gless' appearance marked the first time the show has flown an American to the UK to film a role.[14] She reprised the role[15] on the October 13, 2018 episode.

Gless served on the advisory board of the Los Angeles Student Film Institute.[16][17]


Gless made her stage debut in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine at Stage West in Springfield, Massachusetts.[when?] Gless had two appearances in London's West End, first in 1993 with Bill Paterson, when she created the role of Annie Wilkes in the stage version of Stephen King's Misery at the Criterion Theatre, and then in 1996, where she appeared opposite Tom Conti in Neil Simon's Chapter Two, at the Gielgud Theatre.

She starred at Chicago playhouse The Victory Gardens Theater in Claudia Allen's Cahoots, as well as several stints, including an evening at Madison Square Garden with the National Company of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.

Gless's most recent stage appearance was as Jane Juska in A Round-Heeled Woman, Jane Prowse's stage adaptation of Jane Juska's book A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-life Adventures in Sex and Romance. The first production ran in San Francisco in early 2010. She starred in a new production in Miami, December 2010 - February 2011, directed by Jane Prowse. A production took place in London, transferring in November 2011 from Riverside Studios to the Aldwych Theatre, where the run closed on January 14, 2012.


  • 2021: Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster (Autobiography)

Personal life

In 1991, Gless married Barney Rosenzweig, the producer of Cagney & Lacey.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1973 Bonnie's Kids Sharon
1974 Airport 1975 Sharon
1983 The Star Chamber Emily Hardin
1997 Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life Narrator
2000 Bring Him Home Mary Daley
2009 Hannah Free Hannah
2010 Once Fallen Sue
2023 Fast Charlie Mavis


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Ironside Jennifer Episode: "House of Terror"
The Longest Night Switchboard Operator Television film
The Sixth Sense Kay Episode: "Coffin, Coffin in the Sky"
McCloud Sgt. Maggie Clinger Episode: "The New Mexican Connection"
All My Darling Daughters Jennifer Television film
Emergency! Undercover Police officer Episode: "Fuzz Lady"
1972–1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Kathleen Faverty 21 episodes
1973 My Darling Daughters' Anniversary Jennifer Television film
1973–1974 Faraday & Company Holly Barrett 4 episodes
1974 Adam-12 Lynn Carmichael Episode: "Clinic on 18th St."
The Bob Newhart Show Rosalie Shaeffer Episode: "The Modernization of Emily"
The Rockford Files Susan Jameson Episode: "This Case Is Closed"
1975 Lucas Tanner Miss Reynolds Episode: "Those Who Cannot, Teach"
Emergency! Sculptor Episode: "Election"
1975–1978 Switch Maggie Philbin 71 episodes
1976 Baa Baa Black Sheep (TV series) Navy Nurse Episode: "The Flying Misfits"
The Rockford Files Lori Jenivan Episode: "The Fourth Man"
Kojak Nancy Parks Episode: "Law Dance"
Richie Brockelman: The Missing 24 Hours Darcy Davenport Television film
1978 Crash Lesley Fuller Television film
The Immigrants Jean Seldon Lavetta miniseries
1979 Centennial Sidney Endermann 5 episodes
Turnabout Penny Alston/Sam Alston 7 episodes
The Last Convertible Kay Haddon Television film
1980 Hardhat and Legs Patricia Botsford Television film
The Kids Who Knew Too Much Karen Goldner Television film
The Scarlett O'Hara War Carole Lombard Television film
Revenge of the Stepford Wives Kaye Foster Television film
1981 The Miracle of Kathy Miller Barbara Miller Television film
1982 House Calls Jane Jeffries 15 episodes
1982–1988 Cagney & Lacey Det. Sgt. Christine Cagney 119 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1986–87)
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1985–88)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1985, 1987–89)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1983–85, 1988)
1983 Tales of the Unexpected Caroline Coates Episode: "Youth from Vienna"
Hobson's Choice Maggie Hobson Television film
1984 The Sky's No Limit Joanna Douglas Television film
1985 Letting Go Kate Television film
1989 The Outside Woman Joyce Mattox Television film
1990–1992 The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Rosie O'Neill 26 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1991–92)
1992 Honor Thy Mother Bonnie Von Stein Television film
1994 Separated by Murder Various Television film
Cagney & Lacey: The Return Christine Cagney-Burton Television film
1995 Cagney & Lacey: Together Again Christine Cagney-Burton Television film
Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling Christine Cagney Television film
1996 Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions Christine Cagney Television film
1997 Promised Land Alex Tolan 2 episodes
1998 The Girl Next Door Dr. Gayle Bennett Television film
2000 Touched by an Angel Ziggy Episode: "The Perfect Game"
2000–2005 Queer as Folk Debbie Novotny 79 episodes
2003 Judging Amy Dr. Sally Godwin Episode: "Maxine Interrupted"
2006 The State Within Lynne Warner 6 episodes
2007–2013 Burn Notice Madeline Westen 111 episodes
Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2008–2009 Nip/Tuck Colleen Rose 4 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2016 Rizzoli & Isles Inmate Episode: "2M7258-100"
The Exorcist Chris MacNeil 4 episodes
2017 The Gifted Ellen Strucker 2 episodes
2017–2020 Casualty Zsa Zsa Harper-Jenkinson 4 episodes[13]
2019 Constance Raylynn Television film
2023 Station 19 Dottie Episode: "We Build Then We Break"

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Title Result
1983 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Cagney & Lacey Nominated
1984 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
1985 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television Awards Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Won
1986 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Won
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Won
Viewers for Quality Television Awards Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Won
1987 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Won
Viewers for Quality Television Awards Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Won
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
1988 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television Awards Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Won
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
1989 Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama Nominated
1991 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Nominated
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Won
1992 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
1995 Hollywood Walk of Fame Star on the Walk of Fame at 7065 Hollywood Blvd Won
2004 TV Land Awards Favorite Crimestopper Duo Cagney & Lacey Nominated
2006 TV Land Awards Coolest Crime Fighting Team Nominated
2007 TV Land Awards Favorite Lady Gumshoe Nominated
2008 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Nip/Tuck Nominated
2009 Madrid International Film Festival Best Actress Hannah Free Won
Film Out San Diego Audience Award Best Actress in a Feature Film Won
2010 Gracie Award Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama Series Burn Notice Won
Satellite Award Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. ^ a b "("Gless" search results)". EMMYS. Television. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "("Gless" search results)". Golden Globe Awards. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sharon Gless". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c The Guardian: "Sharon Gless: My family values - The actor, best known for her role as Cagney in Cagney & Lacey, talks about her family" Nikki Spencer October 7, 2011
  5. ^ a b Spencer, Nikki (October 7, 2011). "Sharon Gless: My family values". Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "Newsday, July 7, 2004". Archived from the original on February 10, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Sharon Gless Biography (1943-)
  8. ^ Witbeck, Charles (July 12, 1976). "Sharon Gless Hoping for Larger Role". News-Journal. Ohio, Mansfield. King Features Syndicate, Inc. p. 12. Retrieved August 14, 2017 – via Open access icon
  9. ^ "Bio". Sharon Gless. Retrieved June 26, 2021.
  10. ^ Buck, Jerry (January 31, 1982). "Sharon Gless of 'House Calls'". Sunday Times-Sentinel. Gallipolis, Ohio. AP. pp. 16, § Take-One. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  11. ^ Scott, Vernon (January 28, 1976). "Days Long for Actress". News-Journal. p. 16. Retrieved September 7, 2015 – via
  12. ^ Deggans, Eric (July 17, 2010). "Sharon Gless is smokin' in 'Burn Notice'". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "BBC One's Casualty kicks off new series with special two-part episode" (Press release). BBC Media Centre. July 30, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  14. ^ Reilly, Elaine (November 14, 2017). "Sharon Gless: 'Apparently it's the first time Casualty have flown an American over to play a role!'". What' s on TV. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  15. ^ @BBCCasualty (October 13, 2018). "Zsa Zsa to the rescue! 💪 #Casualty is on @BBCOne RIGHT NOW!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. June 10, 1994. pp. 10–11.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  17. ^ Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. June 7, 1991. p. 3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

External links

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