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Rosie O'Donnell

This article is about the entertainer. For Air Force General Emmett "Rosie" O'Donnell, Jr., see Emmett O'Donnell, Jr..

Rosie O'Donnell
File:Rosie o donnell.jpg
O'Donnell at a tailgate party before a Barbra Streisand concert, November 7, 2006
Born Roseann O'Donnell[1]
(1962-03-21) March 21, 1962 (age 58)
Commack, New York, U.S.
Residence Saddle River, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Television personality, comedian, actress, author
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Kelli Carpenter (m. 2004; div. 2007)
Michelle Rounds (m. 2012; split 2014)
Children 5

Roseann "Rosie" O'Donnell (born March 21, 1962)[2] is an American comedian, actress, author, and television personality. She has also been a magazine editor and continues to be a celebrity blogger, lesbian rights activist, television producer, and collaborative partner in the lesbian family vacation company R Family Vacations.

O'Donnell started her comedy career while still a teenager and her big break was on the talent show Star Search in 1984. A TV sitcom and a series of movies introduced her to a larger national audience and from 1996 to 2002, she hosted The Rosie O'Donnell Show, which won multiple Emmy Awards. During this time, she wrote her first memoir, Find Me, and developed the nickname "Queen of Nice" as well as a reputation for philanthropic efforts. She used the book's $3 million advance to establish her For All Kids foundation and promoted other charity projects, encouraging celebrities on her show to also take part.

O'Donnell came out, stating "I'm a dyke!" two months before finishing her talk show run, saying that her primary reason was to bring attention to gay adoption issues. O'Donnell is a foster and adoptive mother. She was named "Person of the Year" in a 2002 cover story by The Advocate with an in-depth interview by the magazine's editor-in-chief, Judy Wieder. In May 2003, she became a regular contributor to the magazine. She continues to do charity work and remains involved with LGBT and family-related issues.

In 2006, O'Donnell became a moderator on The View. Her strong opinions resulted in several notable controversies, including an on-air dispute regarding the Bush administration's policies with the Iraq War, resulting in a mutual agreement to cancel her contract. In 2007, O'Donnell released her second memoir, Celebrity Detox, which focuses on her struggles with fame and her time at The View. From 2009 to 2011, she hosted Rosie Radio on Sirius XM Radio. In 2011, O'Donnell signed on with the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network to return to daytime TV with The Rosie Show. The network cancelled the show due to low ratings on March 16, 2012, and the last show aired on March 29, 2012. In July 2014, Rosie O'Donnell was rehired to join The View as a co-host for the series' eighteenth season. O'Donnell announced in February 2015 her decision to depart the series again, this time citing personal reasons for her departure.

Early life

O'Donnell, the third of five children, was born and raised in Commack, Long Island, New York.[3][4] She is the daughter of Roseann Teresa (née Murtha), a homemaker, and Edward Joseph O'Donnell, an electrical engineer who worked in the defense industry.[4] O'Donnell's father had immigrated from County Donegal, Ireland during his childhood, and her mother was Irish American; O'Donnell was raised Catholic.[1][5] Four days before her 11th birthday, on March 17, 1973, O'Donnell's mother died of breast cancer.[2] While she attended Commack High School, O'Donnell was voted homecoming queen, prom queen, senior class president and class clown.[3] It was during high school that she began exploring her interest in comedy, beginning with a skit performed in front of the school in which she imitated Gilda Radner's character Roseanne Roseannadanna.[2] After graduating in 1980, O'Donnell briefly attended Dickinson College, later transferring to Boston University, before ultimately dropping out of college.[3]


Early work

O'Donnell toured as a stand-up comedian in clubs from 1979 to 1984.[6] She got her first big break on Star Search, explaining on Larry King Live:[7]

I was 20 years old, and I was at a comedy club in Long Island. This woman came over to me and she said, I think you're funny. Can you give me your number? My dad is Ed McMahon. I was like, yeah, right. I gave her my father's phone number. I was living at home, I'm like, whatever. And about three days later, the talent booker from Star Search called and said, we're going to fly you out to L.A. [...] I won, like, five weeks in a row. And it gave me national exposure.
O'Donnell at the 1992 Emmy Awards

After this success, she moved on to television sitcoms, making her series debut as Nell Carter's neighbor on Gimme a Break! in 1986.[8] In 1988, she joined music video station VH1's lineup of veejays.[8] She started hosting a series for VH1, Stand-up Spotlight, a showcase for up-and-coming comedians.[8] In 1992, she starred in Stand By Your Man, a Fox Network sitcom co-starring Melissa Gilbert.[9] The show bombed, just as O'Donnell's movie career took off. O'Donnell made her feature film debut in A League of Their Own (1992) alongside Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna.[5] She was originally considered for the role of Mary Sanderson in Disney's Hocus Pocus, but it was ultimately given to Kathy Najimy. O'Donnell claimed on her blog that she turned down the offer to work with the Divine Miss M (Bette Midler) because she refused to portray a frightening evil witch. Throughout her career, she has taken on an eclectic range of roles: she appeared in Sleepless in Seattle as Meg Ryan's character's best friend; as Betty Rubble in the live-action film adaptation of The Flintstones with John Goodman, Elizabeth Perkins and Rick Moranis; as one of Timothy Hutton's co-stars in Beautiful Girls; as a federal agent comedically paired with Dan Aykroyd in Exit to Eden; as the voice of a tomboyish female gorilla named Terk in Disney's Tarzan; and as a baseball-loving nun in M. Night Shyamalan's Wide Awake.

The Rosie O'Donnell Show

In 1996, she began hosting a daytime talk show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show.[10] The show proved very successful, winning multiple Emmy Awards,[11] and earning O'Donnell the title of "The Queen of Nice" for her style of light-hearted banter with her guests and interactions with the audience.[10] As part of her playful banter with her studio audience, O'Donnell often launched koosh balls at the crowd and camera.[12] She also professed an infatuation with Tom Cruise.[3]

With New York City as the show's homebase, O'Donnell displayed her love of Broadway musicals and plays by having cast members as guests, encouraging the audience to see shows, premiering production numbers as well as promoting shows with ticket giveaways.

After the Columbine shootings, O'Donnell became an outspoken supporter of gun control and a major figure in the Million Mom March.[13] During the April 19, 1999 broadcast of her talk show, she stated, "You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun, I think you should go to prison."[14] O'Donnell previously had remarked, "I don't personally own a gun, but if you are qualified, licensed and registered, I have no problem."[15] In May 1999, a month after the Columbine shootings, O'Donnell interviewed Tom Selleck, who was promoting The Love Letter. O'Donnell confronted him about his recent commercial for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and challenged him about the NRA's position on the use of "assault weapons." She said at the end of the segment the conversation had "not gone the way I had hoped" and added "if you feel insulted by my questions, I apologize, because it was not a personal attack. It was meant to bring up the subject as it is in the consciousness of so many today."[16][17] Around the same time, the cast from Annie Get Your Gun was to appear on the show but refused O'Donnell's request to remove the line "I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge" from the song "Anything You Can Do" and agreed to perform "My Defenses Are Down" instead.[18]

Later in 1999, O'Donnell discontinued her contract with Kmart as their spokeswoman, as gun enthusiasts complained that she shouldn't be the spokesperson for the largest gun retailer. O'Donnell countered that Kmart sells hunting rifles, not handguns or assault weapons and does so legally which she supports. Both Kmart and O'Donnell denied publicly that Kmart had terminated the contract.[19] In May 2000, O'Donnell's bodyguard applied for a concealed firearm permit. O'Donnell stated that the security firm contracted by Warner Bros. requested the gun. O'Donnell stated that because of threats, she and her family need protection, which she attributes to her "tough gun-control rhetoric".[20]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Broadway and tourism in New York City was down and many shows were in danger of closing. O'Donnell was among many in the entertainment field who encouraged viewers to visit and support the performing arts. She announced that she would donate 1 million dollars for aid in the rescue efforts and encouraged other celebrities and citizens alike to "give till it hurts".[21]

In 2002, she left her talk show.[22] The show was replaced by The Caroline Rhea Show, with comedian Caroline Rhea, which ran for one additional season.

The View

File:Rosie O'Donnell 2 by David Shankbone.jpg
O'Donnell at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival premiere for the I Am Because We Are documentary, about the millions of orphans in the African country of Malawi who lost parents and siblings to HIV and AIDS. Her passion for protecting children has led her to be outspoken on issues affecting them, including world affairs and adoption.

In September 2006, O'Donnell replaced Meredith Vieira as a co-host and moderator of The View, a daytime women-oriented talk show.[23] Star Jones, a co-host on the show, quit, with some speculating Jones's conservative views would be in constant tension with O'Donnell's more liberal counterpoint. O'Donnell had also disputed Jones's route of rapid weight loss, alluding that it must have been through gastric bypass surgery, rather than dieting and exercise alone as Jones had insisted, which also fed speculation about certain tension between the two. (Jones later confirmed that surgery was involved.) O'Donnell is credited with keeping the show's "buzz factor up".[24] She is also credited with making it more news-focused, though it still embraced the "fluff" of daytime TV talk shows (celebrities, fashion and food).[25] Despite an overall downward trend for most daytime broadcast shows, ratings rose by 27% during O'Donnell's first year on The View.[26] The show was the fourth-most-watched in all of daytime in the key demographic of women ages 18–49, and scored record ratings in the total viewer category with an average of 3.4 million viewers—up 15% versus the same time in 2005.[26] O'Donnell moderated the opening "Hot Topics" portion of the show, where news items were discussed. O'Donnell gave the show a more political slant, and she and fellow comic Joy Behar often gave strong opinions against former President Bush's domestic and foreign policies, including the Iraq War. As a conservative counterpoint, Elisabeth Hasselbeck would usually support the Bush administration's policies and the two would get into an adversarial give-and-take.

Encouraged by the show to be outspoken, O'Donnell sometimes provoked debate, at one time stating "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam."[27] On the February 24, 2003 episode of Phil Donahue's talk show, O'Donnell referred to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston resulting in $157 million awarded to 983 claimants,[28] stating "I hope the Catholic Church gets sued until the end of time. Maybe, you know, we can melt down some of the gold toilets in the Pope's Vatican and pay off some of the lawsuits because, the whole tenet of living a Christ-like life, has been lost in Catholicism."[29]

O'Donnell joked about communion rituals alongside co-host Behar's drunk priest comments.[30] On April 19, 2007, the panel discussed the Supreme Court of the United States's ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, a decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. O'Donnell cited a Florynce Kennedy quote, "If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament" and asked rhetorically "How many Supreme Court judges are Catholic?" and "How about separation of church and state?"[31] Some conservatives called her statements "anti-Catholic bigotry" and suggested that such statements against other religions would not be tolerated.[31][32][33][34] O'Donnell's outspokenness and spontaneousness sometimes led to her views being recirculated by other media outlets, often surprising The View co-hosts including O'Donnell.[35][36][37] Frequently portrayed unfavorably by conservative media outlets and what she deemed as Republican pundits,[38] O'Donnell lamented that they were focusing on her comments instead of more important national and world issues.[36]

On December 5, 2006, O'Donnell used a series of ching chongs to imitate newscasters in China.[39][40] Vanessa Hua of the San Francisco Chronicle expressed disappointment in O'Donnell, given the comedian's championing of LGBT rights.[41] On December 14, O'Donnell apologized to those she offended, explaining that "Some people have told me it's as bad as the n-word. I was like, really? I didn't know that."[42] O'Donnell warned that "there's a good chance I'll do something like that again, probably in the next week, not on purpose. Only 'cause it's how my brain works." Time called it a "pseudo-apology".[41][43] O'Donnell later wrote in Celebrity Detox that "I wish I had been a bit more pure in my public apology."[44]

In December 2006, O'Donnell criticized Donald Trump for holding a press conference to reinstate Miss USA Tara Conner, who had violated pageant guidelines, accusing him of using her scandal to "generate publicity for the Miss USA Pageant" (to which he owns the rights) by announcing he was giving her a second chance.[45][46] O'Donnell commented that due to Trump's multiple marital affairs and questionable business bankruptcies, he was not a moral authority for young people in America. She stated, "Left the first wife, had an affair. Left the second wife, had an affair – but he's the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America."[46] In response, Trump began a "vicious" mass media blitz in which he appeared on various television shows, either in person or by phone, threatening to sue O'Donnell (he never did).[47] He called her names, threatened to take away her partner Kelli, and claimed that Barbara Walters regretted hiring her.[47][48][49][50] Walters was stuck in the middle as a social acquaintance of Trump's, and said O'Donnell didn't feel like Walters defended her enough, which led to what both women agreed was an unfortunate confrontation in one of the dressing rooms.[51] "I had pain and hurt and rejection," O'Donnell said, "sometimes [my emotions] overwhelm me. Sometimes I get flooded."[51] Walters denied that she was unhappy with O'Donnell, saying, "I have never regretted, nor do I now, the hiring of Rosie O'Donnell."[50]

On April 25, 2007, ABC announced that O'Donnell would be leaving the show before the end of the year because of a failure to reach agreement on a new contract.[52]

O'Donnell condemned many of the Bush administration's policies, especially the war in Iraq and the resulting occupation.[53] She also questioned the official explanation for the destruction of the World Trade Center, and stating in one episode, "I do believe that it's the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel".[54][55] She consistently mentioned recent military deaths and news about the war, and criticized the U.S. media for its lack of attention to these issues compared to media coverage throughout the world. This led to a series of heated exchanges with co-host Hasselbeck, as well as "the most-discussed moment of her professional life."[51] On May 17, 2007, O'Donnell rhetorically asked, "655,000 Iraqi civilians dead. Who are the terrorists? ... if you were in Iraq and another country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?"[56] Conservative commentators criticized O'Donnell's statements, saying that she was comparing American soldiers to terrorists.[38] On May 23, 2007, a heated discussion ensued, in part, because of what O'Donnell perceived as Elisabeth Hasselbeck's unwillingness to defend O'Donnell from the criticisms; O'Donnell asked Hasselbeck, "Do you believe I think our troops are terrorists?" Hasselbeck answered in the negative but also stated "Defend your own insinuations."[38][57][58][59] O'Donnell was hurt and felt Hasselbeck had betrayed her friendship: "there's something about somebody being different on TV toward you than they are in the dressing room. It didn't really ring true for me."[51] O'Donnell stated that Republican pundits were mischaracterising her statements and the right-wing media would portray her as a bully, attacking "innocent pure Christian Elisabeth" whenever they disagreed.[38] O'Donnell decided to leave the show that day, but afterwards stated that the reason was not the argument itself, but rather the fact that she saw on the studio monitor that the camera now showed a split screen, with her and Hasselbeck on either side. O'Donnell felt that the show's director and producer "had to prepare that in advance [...] I felt there was setup egging me into that position. The executive producer and I did not gel."[51] O'Donnell and ABC agreed to cut short her contract agreement on May 25, 2007.[60] ABC News reported that her arguments with Hasselbeck brought the show its best ratings ever.[61]

In May 2007, Time magazine included O'Donnell in their annual list of the 100 most influential people.[62][63] O'Donnell was named "The Most Annoying Celebrity of 2007" by a PARADE reader's poll, in response she said, "Frankly, most celebrities are annoying ... and I suppose I am the most annoying, but, whatever."[64]

In 2008, The View won an Emmy for "Outstanding Special Class Writing" for a specially themed Autism episode that O'Donnell helped create. Janette Barber, O'Donnell's longtime friend and producer/writer of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, accepted the award on behalf of herself and the other two winners, Christian McKiernan and Andrew Smith.[65][66]

In the fall of 2014, O'Donnell returned to The View as a co-host, with a newly re-vamped version of the show, along with Whoopi Goldberg returning as moderator and new co-hosts Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.[67] On February 6, 2015, representatives for O'Donnell confirmed she would once again exit the panel, citing her reasons as a "personal decision".[68] In a statement, made to The Hollywood Reporter, O'Donnell said, "[My health] got a little bit worse right before the holidays — [my doctor] was kind of concerned. [...] I can't really fix [my personal life] right away, but I can fix [my job]."[69]


In March 2007, O'Donnell started a video blog, Jahero, on her website answering fans questions, giving behind the scenes information and serving as a video diary. Originally featuring only O'Donnell and her hair and make-up artist Helene Macaulay they were soon joined by her writer from The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Janette Barber.[70] Called Jahero, which has the initial two letters of each of their first names in it, they occasionally had short cameo appearances by View co-hosts Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Barbara Walters. Jenny McCarthy appeared once briefly, as has Hasselbeck's mother-in-law and O'Donnell's mother-in-law, her wife Kelli's mother. Kathy Griffin also appeared, where she read some of the questions. It became so popular that O'Donnell and her creative team considered an "on the road" version of the video blog utilizing fan-submitted suggestions. O'Donnell was the front runner for the "best celebrity blogger" category in the 2007 Blogger's Choice Awards which she won.[71]

O'Donnell expressed interest in replacing long-time host Bob Barker when he retired from CBS's game show The Price Is Right. Barker was a frequent guest on her talk show and told reporters that she "would make a fine host." Although it was reported he had "endorsed" her as a "possible successor", Barker said that he had no role in choosing his replacement.[72][73] In June 2007, she announced on her blog it was not going to happen and noted she was reluctant to uproot her family to move to California.

In 2008, O'Donnell starred in and executive produced America, a Lifetime channel original movie in which she plays the therapist of the title character, a 16-year-old boy aging out of the foster care system. The film is based on the E.R. Frank book of the same name.[74]

In October 2009, she appeared in the original cast of Love, Loss, and What I Wore.[75]

In November 2009 ,"Rosie Radio", a daily two-hour show with O'Donnell discussing news and events on Sirius XM Radio, premiered. O'Donnell said she was approached by the company after she appeared on Howard Stern's Sirius XM show.[76][77] The radio show ended in June 2011.

The Rosie Show and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

In 2011, O'Donnell began producing material for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In May 2011, The Doc Club with Rosie O'Donnell premiered, a show where O'Donnell moderates live panel discussions following premieres of OWN Documentaries. She has hosted specials for Becoming Chaz in May 2011 and Miss Representation in October 2011.

In fall 2011, O'Donnell began full-time work on her new show, The Rosie Show, for OWN.[78] The show taped at the Chicago studio formerly home to The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show debuted on October 10, 2011, to generally positive reviews.[79]

OWN canceled The Rosie Show on March 16, 2012, with the last show taped March 20, on the eve of O'Donnell's 50th birthday. The final show aired on OWN on March 29, 2012. In a statement, Oprah Winfrey said "I thank Rosie from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this journey. She has been an incredible partner, working to deliver the best possible show every single day. As I have learned in the last 15 months, a new network launch is always a challenge and ratings grow over time as you continue to gather an audience. I'm grateful to Rosie and the dedicated Rosie Show team for giving it their all."[80] O'Donnell responded to the cancellation by thanking her viewers and the host city of Chicago: "I loved working with Oprah in the amazing city of Chicago. I was welcomed with open arms and will never forget the kindness of all I encountered. It was a great year for me—I wish the show was able to attract more viewers—but it did not. So I am headed back to my home in New York—with gratitude. On we go!"[80]

Other ventures

Rosie magazine

Main article: McCall's

In 2000, O'Donnell partnered with the publishers of McCall's to revamp the magazine as Rosie's McCall's (or, more commonly, Rosie).[81] The magazine was launched as a competitor to fellow talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey's monthly magazine O. Rosie covered issues including breast cancer, foster care and other matters of concern to O'Donnell. In the September 2000 issue, she shared that "she has struggled with depression her entire life" and decided to start medications when she realized her fears were affecting her family.[82] With a strong start and a circulation close to 3.5 million, things looked promising but the magazine stumbled as conflicts emerged between O'Donnell and the editors.[83] The contract gave O'Donnell control over editorial process and editorial staff but veto power remained with publisher Gruner+Jahr USA.[84] O'Donnell quit the magazine in September 2002, following a dispute over editorial control.[84] "If I'm going to have my name and my brand on the corner of a magazine, it has to be my vision" she told People.[85] Rosie magazine folded in 2003. In late 2003, O'Donnell and the publishers each sued the other for breach of contract. The publishers claimed that, by removing herself from the magazine's publication, she was in breach of contract. The trial received considerable press coverage. O'Donnell would often give brief press interviews outside of the courtroom responding to various allegations. Of note was a former magazine colleague and breast cancer survivor who testified that O'Donnell said to her on the phone that people who lie "get sick and they get cancer. If they keep lying, they get it again".[86] O'Donnell apologized the next day and stated "I'm sorry I hurt her the way I did, that was not my intention." The judge dismissed the case, ruling that neither side should receive damages.[87]


In April 2002, O'Donnell released Find Me, a combination of memoir, mystery and detective story with an underlying interest in re-uniting birth mothers with their children.[88] In addition to cataloging her childhood and early adulthood, the book delved into O'Donnell's relationship with a woman with multiple personality disorder who posed as an under-aged teen who had become pregnant by rape. The book reached number two on The New York Times bestseller list.

In October 2007, she released Celebrity Detox, her second memoir which focuses on the struggles with leaving fame behind, noting her exits from The Rosie O'Donnell Show and The View.

R Family Vacations

In 2003, O'Donnell and Carpenter partnered with travel entrepreneur Gregg Kaminsky to launch R Family Vacations catering to LGBT families, "the very first all gay and lesbian family vacation packages" where "gays and lesbians can bring their kids, their friends, and their parents."[89] Although O'Donnell is not involved on a day-to-day basis, she does contribute to the creative aspects of "advertising and marketing materials" and initiated the idea for the company when she filled in as a last-minute replacement headliner on one of Kaminsky's Atlantis Events gay cruises and also came up with the name "R Family Vacations."[90] On July 11, 2004, the first cruise was held with 1600 passengers[91] including 600 children.[92] In addition to traditional entertainment and recreational activities, the company partnered with Provincetown's Family Pride, a 25-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for GLBT families[93] to host discussions on "adoption, insemination, surrogacy, and everything else that would be helpful to gay parenting."[94] All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise, a documentary film about the trip debuted on HBO on April 6, 2006, and was nominated for three Emmy Awards. Of the experience O'Donnell stated "we didn't really realize the magic that was going to take place. People who had never met another gay family met other families and it was powerful."[92]

Broadway production

In late 2003, O'Donnell brought the musical Taboo to Broadway. She hired Charles Busch to re-write the book, and the story became "bitchier" and more focused on the rise to fame of the character based on Boy George.[95] It closed on February 8, 2004, after about 100 performances and "mostly bad" reviews.[96] O'Donnell described the show's production as "by far the most fulfilling experience of my career".[96] She has stated that she intends to bring the show back to Broadway, although Scott Miller writes that people are hesitant to get involved after the "train wreck" of the original production.[95]

Charitable work

Over her career, O'Donnell has developed a reputation for raising funds and her own philanthropy to charitable causes. In May 1996, Warner Books advanced O'Donnell $3 million to write a memoir.[85] She used the money to seed her For All Kids Foundation to help institute national standards for day care across the country.[85]

Since 1997, Rosie's For All Kids Foundation, overseen by Elizabeth Birch, has awarded more than $22 million in Early Childhood Care and Education program grants to over 900 nonprofit organizations.[97] On October 30, 2006, she was honored by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.[98] "It's our privilege to be honoring and hosting Rosie," said NYSPCC president David Stack in a statement.[98] "Her Rosie's for All Kids Foundation has awarded more than $22 million in grants to over 1,400 child-related organizations, and that's just one of her many impressive activities on behalf of children."[98] In November 2006, Nightline aired a video report about the opening of The Children's Plaza and Family Center in Renaissance Village, a FEMA trailer park in Louisiana.[99] This was an emergency response initiative of Rosie's For All Kids Foundation with the help of many local nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses, all efforts were to assist the families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

San Francisco public relations firm Fineman Associates awarded top prize to Procter & Gamble's designation of O'Donnell as "unkissable" in a promotion for Scope mouthwash on the 1997 annual list of the nation's worst public relations blunders.[100] In response to the promotion, O'Donnell partnered with Warner–Lambert's competitor Listerine who donated bottles of mouthwash to the studio audience and donated $1,000 to charity every time a hosted guest would kiss her in exchange for O'Donnell promoting their product.[3] On occasion, the guests would offer multiple kisses and People reported O'Donnell "smooched her way to more than $350,000."[3]

In 2003, O'Donnell and Kelli O'Donnell collaborated with Artistic Director Lori Klinger to create Rosie's Broadway Kids, dedicated to providing free instruction in music and dance to New York City public schools or students. Rosie's Broadway Kids serves more than 4,500 teachers, students, and their family members at 21 schools.[101] Currently programs are in Harlem, Midtown West, Chelsea, Lower East Side, East Village, and Chinatown. All net profits from O'Donnell's 2007 book Celebrity Detox are also being donated to Rosie's Broadway Kids.[44]

In December 2006, at a one-night charity event on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship, Elizabeth Birch, executive director for the Rosie's For All Kids Foundation, confirmed that $50 million from O'Donnell's five-year contract were donated in an irrevocable trust to charity.[102] She is also reported to have contributed several hundred thousand dollars for rehabilitation therapies for war veterans who have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan wars. On The Tyra Banks Show,[103] Banks brought up to O'Donnell that people don't realize that O'Donnell has given more than $100 million to charity.[104] In May 2007, O'Donnell and announced a joint-effort to raise money for Rosie's All Kids Foundation.[105] EA, which owns, committed $30,000 and more money can be raised based on the amount of playing time people spend on certain games.[105] They also held a sweepstakes in which winners get to fly to New York and meet O'Donnell and attend a charity function as her guest.[105]

During the summer of 2007, O'Donnell was a guest on the multi-artist True Colors Tour, which traveled through 15 cities in the United States and Canada.[106] The tour, sponsored by the gay cable channel Logo, began on June 8, 2007. Hosted by comedian Margaret Cho and headlined by Cyndi Lauper, the tour also included Debbie Harry, Erasure, The Gossip, Rufus Wainwright, The Dresden Dolls, The MisShapes, Indigo Girls, The Cliks and other special guests. Profits from the tour helped to benefit the Human Rights Campaign as well as P-FLAG and The Matthew Shepard Foundation.[107] She appeared again on True Colors Tour 2008.

Personal life

O'Donnell was a resident of Nyack, New York after the purchase in 1996 of "Pretty Penny," a Victorian river home that had previously served as the home of Helen Hayes, the American actress and "First Lady of the American Theater." O'Donnell sold the home to businessman Edward M. Kopko in 2000.[108]

Coming out

In her January 31, 2002 appearance on the sitcom Will & Grace, she played a lesbian mom. A month later as part of her act at the Ovarian Cancer Research benefit at Caroline's Comedy Club O'Donnell came out as a lesbian, announcing "I'm a dyke!" "I don't know why people make such a big deal about the gay thing. ... People are confused, they're shocked, like this is a big revelation to somebody."[109] The announcement came two months before the end of the hosting of her talk show. Although she also cited the need to put a face to gays and lesbians, her primary reason was to bring attention to the gay adoption issue. O'Donnell is a foster and adoptive mother. She protested against adoption agencies, particularly in Florida, that refused adoptive rights to gay and lesbian parents.

Diane Sawyer interviewed O'Donnell in a March 14, 2002, episode of PrimeTime Thursday. O'Donnell told USA Today that she chose to talk to Sawyer because she wanted an investigative piece on Florida's ban on gay adoption. She told Sawyer if that was done, "I would like to talk about my life and how (the case) pertains to me." She spoke about the two gay men in Florida who face having a foster child they raised removed from their home. State law won't let them adopt because Florida bans gay or bisexual people from adopting.[109] O'Donnell's coming out drew criticism from some LGBT activists who cited her repeated references to being enamored of Tom Cruise on The Rosie O'Donnell Show as deceptive.[109] She responded in her act stating, "I said I wanted him to mow my lawn and bring me a lemonade. I never said I wanted to blow him."[110] After leaving her show and coming out, O'Donnell returned to stand-up comedy, and cut her hair. O'Donnell told the press that her haircut was meant to mimic the haircut of former Culture Club backup singer Helen Terry.[111]

O'Donnell was named 2002's "Person of the Year" by The Advocate, and in March 2013, she became a regular columnist for the magazine.[112] The magazine's editor-in-chief, Judy Wieder, stated, "Today, Rosie's long and brave journey has led her not only to the cover of the Advocate – Rosie was honored with the magazine's Person of the Year Award for 2002 – but now to its chorus of voices, as a columnist."[112]

Marriages and children

O'Donnell's first child is Parker Jaren O'Donnell,[8][113] whom she adopted as an infant in 1995.[114][113] Parker is an aficionado of military history and, in 2011, successfully lobbied his mother to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy.[115][116] On February 26, 2004, O'Donnell married Kelli Carpenter,[117] a former Nickelodeon marketing executive, in San Francisco two weeks after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her decision to go to San Francisco to marry Carpenter was seen as a show of defiance against then-U.S. President George W. Bush over his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. She said in 2004, "We were both inspired to come here after the sitting President made the vile and hateful comments he made ... [O]ne thought ran through my mind on the plane out here – with liberty and justice for all."[118] The couple was married by San Francisco Treasurer Susan Leal, one of The City's highest ranking lesbian officials, and serenaded by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.[118] O'Donnell said during the trial over Rosie magazine she had decided to marry Carpenter, in part because even though they acted as spouses they legally were no closer than friends: "We applied for spousal privilege and were denied it by the state. As a result, everything that I said to Kelli, every letter that I wrote her, every e-mail, every correspondence and conversation was entered into the record ... I am now and will forever be a total proponent of gay marriage."[118]

Carpenter and O'Donnell have three children together: Chelsea Belle O'Donnell, Blake Christopher O'Donnell, and Vivienne Rose O'Donnell, who was born to Carpenter through artificial insemination.[119]

In mid-November 2009, O'Donnell disclosed that Carpenter had moved out of their home in 2007; a month later, O'Donnell was seen publicly with her new girlfriend, Tracy Kachtick-Anders, a Texas-based artist.[120] In 2000, the family took in a foster child Mia (born in 1997), and announced intentions to adopt her. In 2001, the state of Florida removed Mia from their home, and O'Donnell has since worked extensively to bring an end to the Florida law prohibiting same-sex family adoption.[121][122] As of 2010, O'Donnell and her family resided in South Nyack, New York,[123] a suburb of New York City that is located in Rockland County, and on Miami's Star Island. O'Donnell's brother, Daniel, who is also gay, represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan as a member of the New York State Assembly.[124]

In February 2011, O'Donnell split with her girlfriend Kachtick-Anders. A source said, "They have definitely split up, but it is very complicated because their kids are very close. They still spend a lot of time together." A representative for O'Donnell stated "Rosie and Tracy never officially lived under one roof. They have lived near one another for quite some time, and their families still socialize and they see each other frequently."[125]

O'Donnell began dating Michelle Rounds in mid-2011. Rounds at that time was a 40-year-old executive-search consultant from New York City. On December 5, 2011, during a break in the taping of The Rosie Show, O'Donnell announced to her studio audience she and Rounds were engaged.[126] The two married in a private ceremony in New York on June 9, 2012.[127]

O'Donnell and her wife, Michelle Rounds, announced via Twitter that they adopted a baby girl named Dakota.[128] On February 6, 2015, representatives for O'Donnell confirmed she and Rounds had separated in November of the previous year. On February 28, 2015 a rep for O'Donnell stated that she had filed for divorce from Rounds.[68]


In the summer of 2000, O'Donnell suffered a staph infection after she accidentally cut the middle finger of her left hand with a knife while cutting a price tag off a fishing pole.[53] The infection incapacitated her for several weeks, and nearly resulted in doctors amputating her hand.[129] She later quipped that George W. Bush was to blame for the infection, saying that she was preparing to go on a fishing trip at the time in order to avoid seeing Bush on television during the then-ongoing 2000 Republican National Convention.[53]

O'Donnell suffered a heart attack in mid-August 2012. She says an artery was 99 percent blocked and a stent was inserted.[130][131] She later revealed on Twitter that, to reverse her heart disease, she would espouse the whole-foods, plant-based diet promoted by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.[132]



Year Title Role Notes
1986–87 Gimme a Break! Maggie O'Brien Cast member
1988–91 Stand-Up Spotlight Host Producer
1992 Stand by Your Man Lorraine Popowski 6 episodes
1994 The Ren & Stimpy Show Scout Leader (voice) Episode: "Eat My Cookies"
1996–2002 The Rosie O'Donnell Show Host Producer and executive producer
1996 The Nanny Herself Episode: "The Rosie Show" and "The Black Pearls" as Taxi Driver
1997 The Twilight of the Golds Jackie
1997 Spin City Herself Episode: "An Affair to Remember"
1998 Blue's Clues Herself Episode: "Blue's Birthday"
1999 Jackie's Back Cameo
1999 Ally McBeal Dr. Hooper Episode: "Let's Dance"
2000 Third Watch Paramedic Episode: "Officer Involved"
2002 Will & Grace Bonnie Episode: "Dyeing Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard"
2003 Judging Amy Judge Nancy Paul Episode: "Judging Eric"
2005 Riding the Bus with My Sister Beth Simon TV movie; executive producer
2005–11 Curb Your Enthusiasm Herself Recurring role
2005 Queer as Folk Loretta Pye Recurring role
2005 All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise Herself Producer and executive producer
2006–07 The View Moderator
2006–08 Nip/Tuck Dawn Budge Recurring role
2008 Little Britain USA Herself Season 1, episode 1
2008 Rosie Live Producer and executive producer
2008 Christmas in Rockefeller Center 2008
2009 America Dr. Maureen Brennan Producer and executive producer
2009–10 Drop Dead Diva Judge Madeline Summers 4 episodes
2011 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself
2011 The Doc Club with Rosie O'Donnell Host
2011–12 The Rosie Show Host Producer and executive producer
2011–12 Web Therapy Maxine DeMaine Recurring role; 4 episodes
2012 Happily Divorced Katy O'Grady Episode: "Mother's Day"
2013 Bomb Girls Dottie Shannon Episode: "Something Fierce"
2013 Smash Herself 2 episodes
2013 Impractical Jokers Herself Episode: "Everything's Just Rosie"
2014–15 The View Co-host
2014– The Fosters Rita Hendricks Recurring role
2015 Rosie O'Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up Herself Stand-up comedy special on HBO


Year Title Role Notes
1992 A League of Their Own Doris Murphy
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Becky
1993 Another Stakeout A.D.A. Gina Garrett
1993 Fatal Instinct The Pet Shop Lady
1994 Car 54, Where Are You? Lucille Toody
1994 I'll Do Anything Make-Up Person
1994 The Flintstones Betty Rubble
1994 Exit to Eden Sheila Kingston
1995 Now and Then Roberta Martin
1995 Beautiful Girls Gina Barrisano
1996 Harriet the Spy Ole Golly
1996 A Very Brady Sequel Cameo
1998 Wide Awake Sister Terry
1999 Get Bruce Herself Documentary
1999 Tarzan Terk Voice
2001 Artists and Orphans: A True Drama Narrator
2001 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Archive footage
2001 Last Party 2000 Herself Documentary
2005 The Lady in Question is Charles Busch Herself Documentary
2005 ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway Herself Documentary
2005 Pursuit of Equality Herself Documentary
2006 All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise Herself Documentary; executive producer
2009 America Dr. Maureen Brennan TV movie

Award ceremonies


  • Rosie Radio SIRIUS XM (2009)



  • Find Me (2002)
  • Celebrity Detox (2007)
  • Rosie O'Donnell's Crafty U: 100 Easy Projects The Whole Family Can Enjoy All Year Long (2008)


Year Album Chart positions
US Holiday US
1999 A Rosie Christmas 1 20
2000 Another Rosie Christmas 3 45


Year Single US Country Album
2000 "Santa on the Rooftop" (with Trisha Yearwood) 72 A Rosie Christmas

Nominations and awards

Daytime Emmy Awards:
  • 1997 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show nominated
  • 1997 Outstanding Talk/Service Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 1998 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 1998 Outstanding Talk/Service Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won (tied with Oprah Winfrey)
  • 1998 Outstanding Writing – Special Class, The Rosie O'Donnell Show nominated
  • 1999 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 1999 Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 1999 Outstanding Writing – Special Class, The Rosie O'Donnell Show nominated
  • 2000 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 2000 Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 2001 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 2001 Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won (tied with Regis Philbin)
  • 2002 Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 2002 Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show won
  • 2007 Outstanding Talk Show Host, Rosie O'Donnell, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, The View nominated
Emmy Awards:
  • 1995 Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Rosie O'Donnell (stand-up comedy special) nominated
  • 1996 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, The Larry Sanders Show nominated
  • 1999 Outstanding Children's Program, Kids Are Punny nominated
  • 1999 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special, 52nd Annual Tony Awards won
  • 2006 Outstanding Nonfiction Special, All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise nominated
Kids' Choice Awards:
  • 2000 Hall of Fame Award
Tony Award:
  • 2014 Isabelle Stevenson Award "for her commitment to arts education for New York City's public school children."
Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards:
  • 2002 Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.[133]


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External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Meredith Vieira
The View moderator
Succeeded by
Whoopi Goldberg

Template:Grammy Award hosts

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