Sharon Gless

Active - 1970 - 2010  |   Born - May 31, 1943 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Comedy

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

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.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Grandfather Neil McCarthy was a high-powered entertainment lawyer during Hollywood's early days, representing such clients as Cecil B. DeMille and Howard Hughes.
  • Worked as a secretary for a number of advertising firms and independent-film companies upon leaving Gonzaga University.
  • Best-known for her role as Christine Cagney opposite Tyne Daly in the 1980s police drama Cagney & Lacey
  • Husband Barney Rosenzweig, producer of Cagney & Lacey, lured her back to primetime TV in 1990 with The Trials of Rosie O'Neill.
  • Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995.
  • Won praise from gay-advocacy groups for her portrayal of Debbie Novotny, the supportive mother of gay son Michael Novotny (Hal Sparks), in the Showtime series Queer as Folk.