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Girl Talk: Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless

As 'Cagney & Lacey' comes to DVD, the stars catch up by phone (and let us listen in)

spinner image Hit TV show and police drama Cagney and Lacey now on DVD
Tyne Daly, left, and Sharon Gless in action.
Illustration by Sean McCabe

Tyne Daly was at home in New York. Sharon Gless was in Miami. When we reunited the two stars of the pioneering TV cop show Cagney & Lacey by phone recently, you'd have thought you were listening in on a chat between two of the world's dearest friends.

And you'd be right. From the time they were first teamed up in 1981, Daly (who played Mary Beth Lacey) and Gless (Christine Cagney) have together faced challenges both professional and personal. Today they are, if anything, closer than ever.

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Sharon: Hey, Tyne-O!

Tyne: Hi, Darlin', how are ya?

Sharon: Well I haven't talked to you in a hundred years.

Tyne: I know!

(AARP: I apologize for setting up this joint interview on a Sunday afternoon.)

Tyne: We're furious at you, Bill! (Laughter)

(AARP: As the complete series is being released on DVD, do you ever take the time to go back and look at the old shows?)

Sharon and Tyne: NO!

Sharon: I occasionally run into people who have not seen Cagney & Lacey, and I thoroughly embarrass them. (But) I never watched the show. Tyne was much better about it. Right, Tyne?

Tyne: Me? (laughs)

Sharon: Yeah, you used to go home and watch the show!

Tyne: didn't go home and watch the show! I went home and stopped at the cleaners and stopped at the grocery store and made dinner. I tried to watch it. We had this big plan to watch it together …

Sharon: We did!

Tyne: … and have a graceful dinner and watch the show together. That happened once.

Sharon: Tyne is much more emotionally healthy than I am about watching herself.

(AARP: You played such down-to-earth people, did that make it more possible to live real lives — like going shopping?)

Sharon: No! We did shopping by catalog, right, Tyne?

Tyne: Yeah. That's how we used to go shopping for birthdays or holidays.

Sharon: Or Tyne would knit your gift!

Tyne: (Laughing) That's true! At the end of the first season, Sharon gave me two pounds of caviar. Two pounds! Of really good caviar (Sharon giggles). All this beautiful packaging. gave her a hand-knit scarf! (Both laugh hysterically)

Sharon: With a hat to match!

Tyne: Was there a hat? I forgot that part.

Sharon: (Proudly) Yes, indeed!

Tyne: I thought it was only that nine-foot scarf.

Sharon: In my color!

Tyne: It went on forever.

Sharon: My color is yellow. But it has to be a particular shade of yellow.

Tyne: (Laughing) "Buoyant Spring!" Sharon is a "Buoyant Spring." Now ask me why I know that. (I ask how she knows that) I know she's a "Buoyant Spring" because her grandmother took her to have her color chart done when she was going to become a lady of society, before she learned her true calling. (Sharon laughs) I had never heard of a color chart …

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Sharon: Well, I treated Tyne to hers, and Tyne is a "Metallic Autumn."

Tyne: See?

Sharon: Very dramatic.

Tyne: I can do gold and silver and brass all together.

Sharon: Mixed metals.

Tyne: Anyway … Bill?

(AARP: Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to ask questions here, aren't I? You get along so wonderfully. Aren't two leading ladies supposed to hate each other?)

Sharon: That's what the press tried to do. They just could not conceive of two people — especially actresses …

Tyne: (defiantly) Yeah.

Sharon: … sharing the limelight together and getting along. And we really loved each other.

Tyne: (tenderly) Yeah. After awhile there was a determination that they wouldn't be able to divide and conquer. Some producers and some directors feel that's necessary to keep some kind of weird dramatic tension going.

Sharon: Name names, Tyne! We swore allegiance from the beginning. I would like you to know that I was the third "Cagney" (Loretta Swit played the role in the pilot movie; Meg Foster played Cagney during the show's first season). And Tyne Daly is the most generous, generous actor.

Tyne: I'm not …

Sharon: She welcomed me as if she had not had anybody before me. And I know her heart was hurting because she loved her last Cagney.

Tyne: Yeah, Meg and I got to be pals, and there's always pain involved in situations where you're getting to be buddies …

Sharon: The first scene we filmed for the show, we were out at some bar someplace. I was running across the street and fell. That was my entrance as Cagney. I was not supposed to fall.

Tyne: (Chirpily) Well, I think falling on your face, or your butt, is always a very good way to start! Anyway, I don't know how generous I am. I was just …

Sharon: You are!

Tyne: … interested in, you know, the product we were making.

(AARP: So how long did it take for you to get to this point, where I put the two of you together on the phone and then I just disappear?)


Sharon: You don't exist, Bill! Thanks for hooking up this call for Tyne and me!

(AARP: But really, how long did it take to become friends?)

Tyne: Between 17 minutes and 21, probably.

Sharon: My first day on the set was actually Tyne Daly's birthday.

Tyne: Really? How do you remember these things?

Sharon: I remember because I dressed up as a clown! I was so nervous. I didn't know her very well, but I wanted to participate. They were gonna have a cake for her, and I said, "Do you have a clown outfit?" Well, they came up with a clown outfit! I went out like Bozo …

Tyne: I mean, the full clown!

Sharon: Full clown!

Tyne: Really elaborate.

Sharon: I did a whole clown act for her, and I had her fooled for quite awhile, but then I couldn't breathe under that mask so I took it off.

(They take turns laughing)

(AARP: How did you react when the show was finally canceled?)

Tyne: I think I was the feisty one. I didn't want it to be over.

Sharon: Me, I was in Hazelden (an addiction treatment center).

Tyne: Oh!

(Both laughing uproariously)

Sharon: And they wouldn't let me have the news! I guess they were afraid I was gonna go off the end. (More laughing) And someone sent me a newspaper and I went into my counselor's office. I knocked on the door and I said, (meekly) "Excuse me, I just got this newspaper that says my show's been canceled." She said, "Would everyone leave the room? Please come in, Miss Gless."

Tyne: (Laughing uncontrollably) Where are you, Gless?

Sharon: I'm in Miami. Sitting in the kitchen with my feet up.

Tyne: Miami! That's a good AARP place!

Sharon: I want you to know that I'm almost 70, and I'm a loyal AARP member.

Tyne: I'm not a member. Oh, dear!

Sharon: You don't have to be a member, Tyne. She's also younger.

Tyne: Ha! Only minutes.

(AARP: Well, thank you both for your time …)

Sharon: Did you get enough, Bill?

Tyne: The trouble with me is I've never learned to function in sound bites, which makes the 21st century a complete mystery to me.

Sharon: Hey, honey …

Tyne: Call me back!


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