Sharon Gless

Sharon Marguerite Gless (born May 31, 1943) is an American character actress of stage, film and television, who is best known for her roles as Maggie Philbin on Switch (1975–1978), as Sgt. Christine Cagney in the police procedural drama series Cagney & Lacey (1982–1988), as Debbie Novotny in the Showtime cable television series Queer as Folk (2000–2005), and as Madeline Westen on Burn Notice (2007–2013). Gless has won two Emmy Awards and has received 10 Emmy nominations. She has won two Golden Globe Awards (in 1986 and 1991) and has received seven Golden Globe nominations. Gless received her own Star on the Walk of Fame in 1995.

    Early life and career

    A fifth-generation Californian, Sharon Gless was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Marjorie (McCarthy) and sportswear manufacturing executive Dennis J. Gless. Her maternal grandfather was Neil McCarthy, a prominent Los Angeles attorney for Howard Hughes who also had a large clientele of major film studio executives and actors. Wanting to become an actress, she sought her grandfather's advice and he told her, "It's a filthy business. You stay out of it." But a few years later, when she spoke to him again about acting, he encouraged her, and gave her money for acting class. She worked as a secretary for the advertising agencies Grey Advertising and Young & Rubicam, and then for the independent movie production companies Sassafras Films and General Film Corporation. After deciding to switch to acting, Gless took classes and in 1974 signed a 10-year contract with Universal Studios. Near the end of her contract, she was identified in the media as the last of the studio contract players — a salaried, Old Hollywood apprentice system which Universal was the last to employ. Actress Elizabeth Baur is Gless's first cousin.

    Career

    Film and television

    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, Emergency!, 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. This 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). Despite being 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 a jump start to her career.

    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'd 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 had been originated, in the pilot installment, by Loretta Swit. Swit, like Foster, was chosen as Cagney because, though 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, played the only partially seen psychiatrist to whom the attorney Fiona "Rosie" O'Neill confided at the beginning of each episode. Gless, who had garnered 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 this subsequent series.

    In 1993 and 1995, Gless and her television partner, Tyne Daly, joined together to re-create their title roles in a quartet of critically acclaimed and popular Cagney & Lacey television movies. Gless and Tyne 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's 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 was on an episode of Touched by an Angel entitled "The Perfect Game."

    On May 26, 2005, Gless 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 following year she co-starred in the USA Network cable television series Burn Notice, playing Michael Westen's (Jeffrey Donovan) mother, Madeline Westen. In addition, Gless was a guest star on several episodes of the FX Network cable television series Nip/Tuck as an unstable agent named 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 2014, Gless is to co-star in a new comedy pilot for ABC, Saint Francis.

    Theater

    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. Sharon 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 14 January 2012.

    Gless made her stage debut in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine at Stage West in Springfield, Massachusetts. Gless has extensive stage experience including 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 '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 appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on October 17, 2011.

    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

    Filmography

    Film

    Year Title Role Notes
    1972 The Longest Night Switchboard Operator
    1972 All My Darling Daughters Jennifer Television movie
    1973 Bonnie's Kids Sharon
    1973 My Darling Daughters' Anniversary Jennifer Television movie
    1974 Airport 1975 Sharon
    1976 Richie Brockelman: The Missing 24 Hours Darcy Davenport Television movie
    1978 The Islander Shauna Cooke
    1978 Crash Lesley Fuller
    1978 The Immigrants Jean Seldon Lavetta
    1979 The Last Convertible Kay Haddon Television movie
    1980 Hardhat and Legs Patricia Botsford Television movie
    1980 The Kids Who Knew Too Much Karen Goldner Television movie
    1980 The Scarlett O'Hara War Carole Lombard Television movie
    1980 Revenge of the Stepford Wives Kaye Foster Television movie
    1981 The Miracle of Kathy Miller Barbara Miller Television movie
    1983 The Star Chamber Emily Hardin
    1983 Hobson's Choice Maggie Hobson
    1984 The Sky's No Limit Joanna Douglas Television movie
    1985 Letting Go Kate Television movie
    1989 The Outside Woman Joyce Mattox Television movie
    1992 Honor Thy Mother Bonnie Von Stein Television movie
    1994 Separated by Murder Various Television movie
    1994 Cagney & Lacey: The Return Christine Cagney-Burton Television movie
    1995 Cagney & Lacey: Together Again Christine Cagney-Burton Television movie
    1995 Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling Christine Cagney Television movie
    1996 Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions Christine Cagney Television movie
    1997 Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life Narrator
    1998 The Girl Next Door Dr. Gayle Bennett Television movie
    2000 Bring Him Home Mary Daley
    2009 Hannah Free Hannah
    2010 Once Fallen Sue

    Television

    Year Title Role Notes
    1972–1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Kathleen Faverty 21 episodes
    1972 The Sixth Sense Kay Episode: "Coffin, Coffin in the Sky"
    1972 McCloud Sgt. Maggie Clinger Episode: "The New Mexican Connection"
    1973–1974 Faraday and Company Holly Barrett 4 episodes
    1974 The Bob Newhart Show Rosalie Shaeffer Episode: "The Modernization of Emily"
    1974 The Rockford Files Susan Jameson Episode: "This Case Is Closed"
    1975–1978 Switch Maggie Philbin 71 episodes
    1975 Lucas Tanner Miss Reynolds Episode: "Those Who Cannot, Teach"
    1976 The Rockford Files Lori Jenivan Episode: "The Fourth Man"
    1976 Kojak Nancy Parks Episode: "Law Dance"
    1979 Centennial Sidney Endermann 5 episodes
    1979 Turnabout Penny Alston/Sam Alston 7 episodes
    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"
    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)
    1997 Promised Land Alex Tolan 2 episodes
    2000–2005 Queer as Folk Debbie Novotny 79 episodes
    2000 Touched by an Angel Ziggy Episode: "The Perfect Game"
    2003 Judging Amy Dr. Sally Godwin Episode: "Maxine Interrupted"
    2006 The State Within Lynne Warner 6 episodes
    2008–2009 Nip/Tuck Colleen Rose 5 episodes
    Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
    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

    References

    External links

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