Blonde leading-lady Sharon Gless owns the distinction of being the last-ever "contract player" at Universal Studios. Signed by Universal in 1969, Gless did yeoman work as a supporting player on such series as the ABC medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969-76) and films including Airport 1975 (1974). She was a regular on the short-lived detective drama series Faraday and Company (1973-74) before achieving a degree of stardom as Maggie, "girl Friday" to Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert, on the popular crime-caper series Switch (1975-78). Her next series was the weekly House Calls (1979-82), in which she replaced departing regular Lynn Redgrave amid Redgrave's contractual dispute with series producers. It was another replacement assignment that solidified Gless as a bankable (and versatile) name: in 1982, she replaced Meg Foster as NYPD officer Chris Cagney on the detective series Cagney and Lacey, which for many years provided her with the greatest amount of viewer identification in her career.
She remained in this role until the series' cancellation in 1988, winning two Emmy awards along the way, then reprised the part (with her co-star Tyne Daly) in a series of well-received TV movies from 1994 to 1996. Then, beginning around 1997, a second wave of popularity arrived for Gless, and she retained her footing as a small-screen mainstay over the following decade or so, with contributions to immensely popular series programs including Promised Land, Queer as Folk, Touched by an Angel, Burn Notice, and Nip/Tuck. In 2001, the Lifetime women's network opted to do one of its Intimate Portrait biographical documentaries on Gless. In the 21st century Gless could be found on numerous episodic television shows including Burn Notice and Nip/Tuck, and she played the title character in the lesbian romantic drama Hannah Free as well producing that film.