In 2013, as her stint on cable television’s “Burn Notice” was drawing to a close, Sharon Gless was called up to CBS. âWelcome home, Sharon,â said Nina Tassler, then president of entertainment, as she held out her hand.
“I was so touched because I had done ‘Cagney & Lacey’ there, and it was my home for many years,” Gless recalls in a recent video interview. “But I didn’t even know if they would remember it.”
She was waiting for the offer of a series. Instead, Tassler told Gless that she thought she had a book in her.
“I dream a lot,” Gless said, “but it wasn’t something I dreamed of.”
It took seven years, but Gless became clear and then certain in “Apparently There Were Complaints,” a hilarious but often touching tale of her metamorphosis: from the granddaughter of a film industry lawyer to the actress. Emmy winner behind one of the greatest iconic characters, New York cop Christine Cagney. The title of the book captures his unwavering spirit: this is how Gless explained to a friend about his decision to go to rehab, shortly after Cagney struggled with his own alcoholism on the show.
Gless hated the process of writing memoirs, she admitted, but enjoys being an author now that it’s done. And even though she doesn’t know if she has another book in her, she thinks she has another series.
By the glow of a light-scalloped palm tree in his home in Fisher Island, Florida – “My husband’s birthday is Christmas, so he hates Christmas trees because they are beyond him,” she said laughed, referring to “Cagney & Lacey” executive producer Barney Rosenzweig – Gless went on what she called “sentimental journeys through my life”.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. “Pumping Sand” by Ed Ruscha With my âCagney & Laceyâ money, I was able to buy a house in Malibu, and I bought it from a very famous producer, Doug Cramer. Doug was an art collector and he left me a piece of art as a gift. It was an Ed Ruscha graphic, and he said, “It has to stay in this beach house,” and I said, “Well, thank you.”
I’m sure it’s bad taste to discuss money, but there was an Ed Ruscha show in New York last year and the Ed Ruscha Society asked if I could lend them my chart. , and I said, âSure. Do you assure it? And they said, “Yeah, the value of it is around $ 400,000.”
2. Union Station in Los Angeles I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Union Station is a spectacular building, and as a child I used to go there to pick up my grandmother and others who have traveled across the United States. You would see people still dressed so nicely to travel around this time. I still love to go today and sit on those very polished wooden benches, and just watch. It is a sensitive place.
3. Broadway classics at Hollywood Bowl My grandfather had a box at the Hollywood Bowl, and he never used it. So he would give us the tickets, and my dad would take me to see the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra in this beautiful setting at sunset. My two favorite evenings were a Rodgers and Hammerstein party and a Lerner and Loewe party. I was delighted.
I constantly listened on my 33 1/3 discs to all the musicals I could get my hands on. I knew every word. I always win bets with [my âCagney & Laceyâ co-star] Tyne Daly, who has a Tony, on lyrics. She has never won once.
4. “Gypsy” I’ve seen Tyne do “Gypsy” four times – three in New York and once in Los Angeles. And IMHO, I think she was the biggest Rose. We still think musicals are light, but this performance was so desperate because Rose was desperate.
5. Audra McDonald All the greats of Broadway were invited to sing at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Hillary was about to be [nominated] and everyone introduced themselves. Tyne and I were invited. Tyne is definitely a Broadway singer, and I got invited because I was Cagney. It was then that I met Audra. She has a world class voice and a world class soul. I’ve known her since that night, and I think she’s the best we’ve got.
6. Eddie Redmayne I was introduced to him as Stephen Hawking in “The theory of everything.” He won the Oscar for it. And then the following year he did “The Danish Girl” and he should have won the Oscar again because he was absolutely brilliant. You never catch him playing. It’s so exciting to see talent like that.
seven. “Hacks” “Hacks” is a comedy, but Jean Smart might break my heart. And she’s an older actress, and she gives me such hope that this kind of career is still possible. There should be older women playing in TV shows. Older actresses have so much more to say.
8. “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris I love books that really scare me. âRed Dragonâ is where Hannibal Lecter was first introduced – it wasn’t âSilence of the Lambsâ – and the description of him, I was petrified and loved every moment. There was a calm in him. A satisfaction. And he was quick! He could be the calmest – I don’t know if tender is the right word because he was so mean. He could move faster than any other human being and end a life in a second.
9. Johnny Mathis Johnny Mathis shaped my life. As a teenager, I dreamed of falling in love and I believed that everything would happen because of those beautiful songs he sang. The first one I heard about was “Marie”, that had emerged from “West Side Story”. The way he does it is like a choir singing. He makes the sound of his name so beautiful. I have all the albums he ever made. He’s just gorgeous.
ten. “Aunt Mame” When I was 14, my parents divorced and I came home from residential school. My mom didn’t know what to do with me so she took me to Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard to see “Auntie Mame” every day. I would sit there on the front row balcony, my feet on the brass railing, and eat buttery popcorn, and memorize every line. Rosalind Russell just did something to me. I was smart enough to know that I could never play Mame. But she was everything I wanted to be.