Hard to believe but true – it’s been over 25 years since Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless exploded onto the small screen as the toughest female TV duo in history on “Cagney & Lacey.”
They’ve reteamed a couple of times since in a few “C& L” specials (released in a 2009 boxed set called “Cagney and Lacey: The Menopause Years”), Tyne appeared on Sharon’s series "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," and when Gless appeared on Daly’s series “Judging Amy” (following the death of co-star Richard Crenna).
Q: How did you all feel about the prospect of re-teaming?
SHARON: I've been trying to talk Tyne into coming and doing our show. Tyne said she'll do it if she could play a mute. But (Executive Producer) Matt Nix said, “I'm not paying Tyne Daly to not hear that voice of hers.”
TYNE: We play very easy together. We have a good time.
SHARON: We've been doing it a long time. We developed something on “Cagney & Lacey.” And I find it very easy and wonderful working with Tyne… When we were in the makeup trailer we’re sitting just chatting and laughing before we begin and that isn't sort of the tone of our makeup trailer so everybody was going, “Boy I wish that we did that more.”
Q: So what did she tell you about coming on “Burn Notice?”
TYNE: She said there was a part. She said it wasn't big enough. She said come anyway and I said yeah.
Q: What kind of a vibe did you get from “Burn Notice” when you went to work on the show?
TYNE: That Sharon was safe and sound, that they love her there. They admire her there... And I threatened everybody if they weren't treating her right that I would lean on them. But it seems to be a good working place.
SHARON: When Tyne walked in… I said to the crew, I said, I didn't get this kind of respect when I walked in. But the two of us together… They were just so, so respectful wanting to watch us work together.
TYNE: And we felt like it’s kind of like bicycle riding with Sharon we just fall into a rhythm and it was nice and easy. It was really fun. We had only three or four scenes but… it felt like a very great tennis match.
Q: Tyne, you didn't work much with Jeffrey (Donovan) but how was working with him?
TYNE: Well we didn't have very much of an opportunity. He was very gracious and behaved the way the star of a television show should behave in terms of greeting guest stars. I think - you can always feel on a set whether… whether it’s a happy set or not, whether the people are engaged in the work they’re doing. So he was lovely. And big bang, I was gone, so we didn't have much to do together. But I think he knew the value of how fun it was for me to be playing with my erstwhile colleague and he was nice about it. He was deferential I could say.
Q: Going back in time when you first started working together. Tyne, what did you learn from Sharon? And Sharon, what did you learn from Tyne?
TYNE: That laughing is important in a situation. When you’re working really hard laughing is important to do as much as humanly possible. We laughed - I think we laughed everyday. And there were some tense days too but we laughed anyway.
SHARON: When I first started the show I learned generosity towards another actor. I'd never seen anything like that. Tyne was so generous in welcoming me to the show. I was her third Cagney. She liked the last one she worked with. And made me feel like I was welcome and it was my home now. And she was just wonderful.
Q: Every time either one of your name’s comes up it goes back to “Cagney & Lacey.” Does that bother you now, more than 25 years later, to still be associated with those characters?
TYNE: There was a time that I promised Sharon that we would not be photographed together and they would not speak in terms of “Cagney & Lacey” and I was wrong. But I don't resent it because it means that we have both been able to keep working and keeping plying our trade and do other stuff. And, no, I don't feel bad about it. Not me.
SHARON: Me either. I really do thank “Cagney & Lacey” for providing all the work that we've been able to have since then. Barney Rosenzweig, our producer, still maintains that we’re worth more together than we are as a single.
TYNE: It could be true but you ain't hurting either, babe.
Q: Since “Cagney & Lacey” there really hasn't been another show with two very strong female characters kind of leading the show. And I just wondered if you had any thoughts on that and why that is.
SHARON: Tyne used to say we really did want to pass the gauntlet and to let hopefully another show like that because TV totally plagiarizes, I mean, it steals from itself all the time. And they never did copy the format.
TYNE: Maybe we did it so well in the first place that they've hesitated to try and copy it, I don't know. I don't run the zoo and I'm really glad I don't.
Q: Outside of working together once in a while since “Cagney & Lacey” do you see each other socially?
SHARON: Whenever we can. We live in different cities but we’re very, very close.
TYNE: Yeah, right now we’re both in San Francisco. Sharon is opening a play. I'm opening (a cabaret show) at the Raz Room and our schedules are exactly the same so we’re going to be able to maybe have a glass of wine and a hamburger together but we’re not going to be able to see each other’s shows which is too bad. I am always grateful to “Cagney & Lacey” because I got my friend Sharon out of it. You know, she’s a real friend and a friend for life. And that doesn't always happen in our business. It’s really pretty rare.
Q: What do you each appreciate about each other now that you that you couldn't during the height of “Cagney & Lacey”?
TYNE: We've been pretty good at appreciating each other.
SHARON: Yeah. I still appreciate Tyne’s talent and I appreciate her friendship.
TYNE: I am encouraged that Sharon keeps finding new things to do and new ways to be of service as an actor and so I can too. If I get blue and I get bummed I think, “Well Gless has gone to London and done a play and she’s developing a new plan thing.” Really but I wanted to be a long distance runner when I started out. And Sharon is being one and I'm being one in a profession where usually you do your sprint and then it’s over... especially for women in some way. Women don't tend to last in this business. They think their shelf life is much shorter than the guy's. So I'm encouraged by Miss Gless.
SHARON: Thank you, my friend, and I you.
Q: What do each of you do to get through the tough times in your careers? What cheered you up and made things better?
SHARON: We go out and have a hot fudge sundae together.
TYNE: Hot fudge sundaes help, yeah.
SHARON: I mean I've been very fortunate. So has Tyne to continue working. Since “Cagney & Lacey” I think both of us have really been on the air, or as Tyne on stage, ever since then.
Q: Could you share with us your favorite memories from your time on “Cagney & Lacey?”
TYNE: Oh darling, it’s so long ago I can't remember a thing. I deny everything. I remember nothing.
SHARON: I do remember my favorite time and Tyne referred to it earlier, we did laugh a lot… We occasionally… we'd get to a part of a scene and one of us would get the giggles. And we couldn't stop. They'd cut, start again and when we'd get to that exact same place, I mean, we'd be so, so tired that we'd just start giggling.
TYNE: There was diminishing returns. There'd get to a place where you’re so tired and there is really no point in going on then. Only the smartest of directors or producers would say… let’s call it for the day, this is over.
Q: What was the “Cagney & Lacey” off the set time that you realized you weren't just co-workers?
SHARON: That happened for me before we ever started working together. Tyne Daly came to my house with champagne and balloons before we ever stepped in front of a camera and I fell in love.
TYNE: I was charged to get Sharon to do the show. We had had Loretta Swit, we had had Meg Foster and they were recasting again. I was deeply pissed off I wanted to get on with it. I loved the project and I loved the idea of these two women as colleagues… Sharon luckily had a birthday on the 31st of May… And I called her up and I said I know it’s your birthday, let me come over, let’s talk this over. And we sat on the floor of her little house in California and I said, “Come out and play. The thing can't go forever, for God sake it'll never g o over… two women are the stars. But it’s a good gig and please come out and play with me.” And I think that was the thing that convinced her to finally say yes… and we polished off that bottle of champagne together… And celebrated her birthday and… I think at that point we decided to be partners and colleagues. And that was unshakeable for the next six years whether the story was mainly about one or the other, the prize went to one or the other whatever the vicissitudes - the billing - we had a huge fight about billing, we had a huge fight about all sorts of things. But we sort of let them fight while we stayed tight. And that was a lesson of colleague-ness that turned into friendship for me. It wasn't so at the beginning but it turned into this lady who’s a friend of mine.
Q: We know you’re both doing a lot of theater these days. Sharon, you’re doing the “Round Heeled Woman” in San Francisco and Tyne, you have your play right now in addition to all the past Broadway work you've done. We’re just wondering if you could describe the process of starting a new show, Sharon.
SHARON: Oh the process… I bought the option on this book about nine years ago. It’s gone through many lives and now it’s actually happening here in San Francisco. But it’s been a long time coming, long, long, long. And I'm nervous. But I don't know really how to describe the process it just took time and patience and finding the right people to do it. I can't do it alone.
Q: Do you give each other advice about your respective shows?
TYNE: I think we've been pretty good supporters of each other since “Cagney & Lacey”. I'm interested in Sharon’s work and what she’s doing and trying to follow it and she in mine… I think we don't hesitate to tell each other our opinions. And you can't get straight opinions out of a lot of people in this business. So I think in some ways I rely on Sharon to give me the straight story. She came to New York to see me try this cabaret thing at Feinstein’s and was not only a supporter and a booster but also somebody who told me the straight story about what she liked and what she didn't.
SHARON: She was fabulous.
Q: Would you ever consider doing theater together?
SHARON: Absolutely, I would. We actually were approached by a company in London to do a project that time wise didn't work out for either of us.
TYNE: There'll be a time. I think there'll be a time to say if the gods subscribe. Years ago, I mean, years ago we were approached to do some production somewhere of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” And we both kind of got a little huffy and said, “We’re too…” But in another 10 years, Shar, “Arsenic and Old Lace” might be right up our street… It’s nice to know it’s over there in case we need it when we get well into our 70s. Sure...
SHARON: In the interim I'd love her to come back to “Burn Notice.” They loved her.
TYNE: I had a good time. I had a good time.
Written by Amy & Nancy Harrington