O'Donnell, Roseann 1962- (Rosie O'Donnell)

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O'DONNELL, Roseann 1962- (Rosie O'Donnell)


Born March 21, 1962, in Commack, NY; daughter of Edward (an engineer) and Roseann (a homemaker) O'Donnell; partner of Kelli Carpenter; children: (adopted) Parker Jaren, Chelsea Belle, Blake Christopher; (born to partner, Kelli Carpenter) Vivienne Rose. Education: Attended Dickinson College and Boston University.


Agent—International Creative Management, 8899 Beverly Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.


Comedienne, actress, and talk show host. Rosie (magazine), New York, NY, editorial director, 2001-02. Founder of For All Kids Foundation and Rosie's Readers (with eToys).

Actor in films, including (as Doris Murphy) A League of Their Own, Columbia, 1992; (as Gina Garrett) Another Stakeout, Buena Vista, 1993; (as Becky) Sleepless in Seattle, TriStar, 1993; Fatal Instinct (also known as Triple Indemnity), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993; (as Lucille Toody) Car 54, Where Are You? Orion, 1994; (as Betty Rubble) The Flintstones, Universal, 1994; (as Sheila Kingston) Exit to Eden, Savoy, 1994; (as makeup person) I'll Do Anything, Columbia, 1994; (as Roberta Martin) Now and Then (also known as The Gaslight Addition), New Line Cinema, 1995; (as Gina Barrisano) Beautiful Girls, Miramax, 1996; (as Ole Golly) Harriet the Spy, Paramount, 1996; (as herself) A Very Brady Sequel, Paramount, 1996; (as Sister Terry) Wide Awake, Miramax, 1998; (as herself) Get Bruce, Miramax, 1999; and (as voice of Terkoz) Tarzan (animated), Buena Vista, 1999.

Actor in television series, including (as Maggie O'Brien) Gimme a Break, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1986-87; (as host and executive producer) Stand-Up Spotlight, VH1, 1989; (as Lorraine Popowski) Stand by Your Man, Fox, 1992; and (as host and executive producer) The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996-2002.

Actor in television series episodes, including (as herself) "Destiny Rides Again," Beverly Hills 90210, Fox, 1992; (as Sheri) "There's No Ship like Kinship," Living Single, Fox, 1994; (as herself) "Breast Augmentation," Night Stand, syndicated, 1995; (as Peg) "I Am Not My Sister's Keeper," Bless This House, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1995; (as herself) "Eight," The Larry Sanders Show, Home Box Office (HBO), 1995; (as Cozette), The Nanny, CBS, 1995; (as taxi driver) "Where's the Pearls?," The Nanny, CBS, 1996; (as herself) "The Rosie Show," The Nanny, CBS, 1996; (as Naomi) All My Children, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1996; (as herself) Spin City, ABC, 1996; (as herself) Suddenly Susan, (NBC), 1996; (as herself) "Ways and Means," Suddenly Susan, NBC, 1997; (as Ann Marie Delany, Secretary 92) "Man and Woman," Murphy Brown, CBS, 1997; and (as herself) "Blue's Birthday," Blue's Clues, Nickelodeon, 1998. Also appeared on Star Search, syndicated; The Dennis Miller Show, syndicated; The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS; (as voice of Head Barrette Beret Girl, "Eat My Cookies," Ren and Stimpy Show (animated), Nickelodeon; and (as host) Saturday Night Live, NBC.

Appearances in television specials, including Show-time Comedy Club All-Stars, Showtime, 1988; A Pair of Jokers: Bill Engvall and Rosie O'Donnell, Show-time, 1990; Hurricane Relief, Showtime, 1992; Back to School '92 (also known as Education First!), CBS, 1992; A Gala for the President at Ford's Theatre (also known as President's Night at Ford's Theatre), ABC, 1993; In a New Light '94, ABC, 1994; Good Hope Fairy, Sesame Street's All-Star Twenty-fifth Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! ABC, 1994; The Cindy Crawford Special, Music Television (MTV), 1994; (as host) The Flintstones: Best of Bedrock, Fox, 1994; Barbara Walters Presents the Ten Most Fascinating People of 1996, 1996; (as host) Catch a Rising Star Fiftieth Anniversary—Give or Take Twenty-six Years, CBS, 1996; Ladies' Home Journal's Most Fascinating Women of '96, CBS, 1996; The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (also known as Popcorn Venus), Turner Broadcasting (TBS), 1996; Vanessa Williams and Friends: Christmas in New York, ABC, 1996; Very Personal with Naomi Judd, Family Channel, 1996; Fifty Years of Television: A Celebration of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Golden Anniversary, HBO, 1997; (as host) Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys, Public Broadcasting (PBS), 1997; Farm Aid '97, Turner Nashville Network (TNN), 1997; Happy Birthday Elizabeth: A Celebration of Life, ABC, 1997; I Am Your Child (also known as From Zero to Three), ABC, 1997; Say It, Fight It, Cure It, Lifetime, 1997; Voices of Hope: Finding the Cures for Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Lifetime, 1997; Walt Disney World's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Party, ABC, 1997; Elmopalooza, ABC, 1998; and Take a Moment, Disney Channel, 1998.

Television appearances at awards presentations, including The Forty-fourth Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Fox, 1992; The MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1993; The Forty-eighth Annual Tony Awards, 1994; The Sixty-sixth Annual Academy Awards Presentations, 1994; The Eight Annual Kids' Choice Awards, 1995; (as cohost) The Ninth Annual Kids's Choice Awards, 1996; The Twenty-third Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, 1996; (as host) The Tenth Annual Kids' Choice Awards, 1997; The Twenty-fourth Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, 1997; (as host) The Fifty-first Annual Tony Awards, 1997; (as host and coproducer) The Eleventh Annual Kids' Choice Awards, 1998; The Twenty-fourth Annual People's Choice Awards, 1998; The Twenty-fifth Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, 1998; and (as host and coproducer) The Fifty-second Annual Tony Awards, 1998.

Director of We're Funny That Way (film), 1998; appeared in (as Betty Rizzo) Grease (stage), Eugene O'Neill Theatre, New York, NY, 1994; (as Jackie) The Twilight of the Gods (television movie), Showtime, 1997, and Cat in the Hat (stage), Broadway, 2001.


American Comedy Award nomination, best female performer in a television special, and CableAce Award nomination, best entertainment host, both 1994, both for Stand-up Spotlight; American Comedy Award nomination, best actress in a motion picture, 1994, for Another Stakeout; American Comedy Award nomination, best supporting female in a motion picture, 1994, for Sleepless in Seattle; Emmy nomination, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series, 1996, for "Eight," The Larry Sanders Show; named Woman of the Year, Ms., 1996; Emmy (shared), Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special, 1999; Lucy Award, Women in Film, 2002; Montblanc Arts Patronage Award, 2002; Vito Russo Award, GLAAD, 2003; multiple Daytime Emmy awards as executive producer and as host of The Rosie O'Donnell Show.


Kids Are Punny: Jokes Sent by Kids to the Rosie O'Donnell Show, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Kids Are Punny 2: More Jokes Sent by Kids to the Rosie O'Donnell Show, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Deborah Axelrod and Tracy Chutorian Semler) Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Find Me, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of foreword to Portraits of Hope: Conquering Breast Cancer: Fifty-two Inspirational Stories of Strength, by Marcia Stevens Sherrill, Wonderland Press (New York, NY), 1998, and I'd Rather Laugh: How to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You, by Linda Richman, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001; performer on sound recordings, including A Rosie Christmas, Columbia, 1999; Another Rosie Christmas, Sony Music, 2000; No Wrapping Required, Lyric Street, 2001; and This Is the Moment, Universal Classics, 2001.


Find Me was adapted for audio (three cassettes; unabridged), Time Warner AudioBooks, 2002.


Rosie O'Donnell's long and successful career as a star of stage, screen, and standup comedy took off with her appearances on VH1's Stand-up Spotlight. Over the decades that followed, she became a producer, as well as a performer, a publisher, and an advocate for children through her nonprofits and generous donations to charitable causes.

O'Donnell grew up in an Irish-Catholic family on Long Island, New York. Her mother died of cancer when O'Donnell was ten, and her father, an engineer who designed cameras for spy satellites, became withdrawn, leaving O'Donnell and her four siblings to look to each other for support. O'Donnell immersed herself in watching television. She inherited her love of comedy, music, dance, and theater from her mother, however, and idolized such notable women as Lucille Ball, Bette Midler, and Carol Burnett. She loved Barbra Streisand, because her mother had played her records while she cooked dinner, and the children had learned all of the songs. After her mother died, her father took the children to Ireland, and upon their return, everything of their mother's was gone—except for the record collection. Their father, who hoped to erase the pain by eliminating her possessions, had not known that the Streisand records were, in fact, the most poignant reminder of the children's mother. Years later, when Streisand walked onto the stage of The Rosie O'Donnell Show and O'Donnell faced her idol for the first time, she broke down and wept.

A popular high school student, O'Donnell was chosen prom queen, homecoming queen, class clown, and class president. She was athletic and played drums in a rock band. She also performed comedy on the high school stage and in local clubs. After graduation, she briefly attended college, but her calling was comedy. In 1984, she was a semifinalist on Star Search, and she used the prize money to move to Los Angeles. Two years later, she landed a small part on a sitcom and was then hired by VH1 to introduce music videos. When that gig ended, she convinced the network to let her produce and host Stand-up Spotlight, a showcase for comedic talent. O'Donnell continued getting small television parts, but in 1992, she was cast in her first major film role.

In the film A League of Their Own O'Donnell plays Doris Murphy, former bouncer and now third baseman on an all-female professional baseball team. She plays Madonna's pal, and in working together, the two women began an actual friendship. The one thing they did have in common was that they had both lost their mothers when they were young. O'Donnell's portrayal was widely praised, and she was cast to play Becky, an editor and best friend of Annie (Meg Ryan) in the film Sleepless in Seattle.

Writer and producer of the film, Nora Ephron, said in a Redbook article that as she was casting, she "thought it would probably take awhile to find the person who would have the qualities we needed for the part: someone funny, of course, and someone whom the women in the audience would immediately believe they, too could be best friends with. The first day of casting, Rosie came in to audition, and I never saw another actress." Ephron, who was interviewing O'Donnell nearly two decades after the release of Sleepless, said that women "all feel that Rosie is someone they could be friends with. But she serves other functions as well: She's conscientious, unafraid of taking political positions, and she's a philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to charity. In an era when politicians have to take lessons in being authentic, she has become successful without blunting her personality. At a time when people want to be famous in order to be famous, she wants to be famous almost entirely to do good things for others."

O'Donnell was cast in major roles in a number of other films, including as Betty Rubble in The Flintstones. She presented a new Rosie when she starred as a leather-clad dominatrix in Exit to Eden, a part that had been turned down by Sharon Stone. She acted in several more films and made her Broadway debut as Betty Rizzo in Tommy Tune's revival of Grease. She began hosting her own daytime television show in 1996, offering a comfortable and friendly talk format that contrasted sharply with some of the more volatile shows of the time. In 2001 O'Donnell launched a magazine, Rosie, which replaced McCall's. Both the magazine and the show folded in 2002.

O'Donnell has garnered many awards for her work and has hosted a long list of shows that have honored the work of others. Through the sale of two collections of jokes sent in by children, she has raised funds for her charity, the All Kids Foundation. In addition, she coauthored Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer with Deborah Axelrod, head of the breast cancer center at Manhattan's St. Vincent's Hospital, and health reporter Tracy Chutorian Semler. Axelrod writes about risk factors, self-exams, and treatments, while O'Donnell's contributions are light-hearted quips that provide intermittent relief from the heavy reading. Well-known breast cancer survivors like Peggy Fleming and Diahann Carroll offer their own comments. A People reviewer wrote that Bosom Buddies "delivers the knowledge women need to take control of their own health" and concluded by saying that "laughter is indeed the best medicine."

O'Donnell is parent to her family of adopted children and the natural child of her partner, Kelli Carpenter. She continues to work for the welfare of children, particularly those who are neglected and abused.

In Find Me O'Donnell touches briefly on her own childhood abuse and her lesbianism, but the bulk of the novel-like memoir is a recounting of her relationship with a young woman with multiple personality disorder. The girl O'Donnell calls Stacy contacted the celebrity's adoption hotline, and O'Donnell returned her call because Stacy said she was a fourteen-year-old rape victim. O'Donnell, who admits to having a compulsive need to help others, was drawn into Stacy's life via frequent e-mails and calls by Stacy to O'Donnell's home at every hour of the day and night. Ultimately, O'Donnell had to face a number of truths about Stacy that were difficult to deal with.

O'Donnell completed the book without help. Jeff Guinn noted in a Detroit Free Press review that she "can certainly write well." Guinn called the book "part memoir, part self-psychoanalysis, part the sad story of someone sick reaching out to a celebrity.…But Stacy is essentially the canvas on which O'Donnell is painting a portrait of herself." A BookPage writer said that O'Donnell's "endearingly self-effacing style and frank portrayal of events will keep readers hooked."



Goodman, Gloria, The Life and Humor of Rosie O'Donnell: A Biography, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

Mair, George, and Anna Green, Rosie O'Donnell: Her True Story, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1997.

Newsmakers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.

O'Donnell, Rosie, Find Me, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Parish, James Robert, Rosie: Rosie O'Donnell's Biography, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1997.

Prud'homme, Alex, Rosie O'Donnell: Biography, Time (New York, NY), 1999.

Spreng, Patrick, Everything Rosie: The Ultimate Guide for Rosie O'Donnell Fans, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1998.


BookPage, April, 2002, review of Find Me, p. 2.

Good Housekeeping, June, 1998, Joanna Powell, "Rosie's Devotion" (interview), p. 100.

Library Journal, October 15, 1999, BetteLee Fox, review of Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer, p. 96; February 15, 2003, Danna Bell-Russel, review of Find Me (audio), p. 183.

People, November 15, 1999, review of Bosom Buddies, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1999, review of Bosom Buddies, p. 77; March 4, 2002, review of Find Me, p. 71.

Redbook, November, 1998, Deanna Kizis, "Rosie O'Donnell: What She Really Wants—and It's not Tom Cruise!" (interview), p. 122; February, 2000, Nora Ephron, "The Real Rosie (Really!)" (interview), p. 86.


Detroit Free Press online,http://www.freep.com/ (May 5, 2002), Jeff Guinn, review of Find Me. *

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O'Donnell, Roseann 1962- (Rosie O'Donnell)

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