In 2021, it wouldn’t be so bad for audiences to see a main TV character who is an alcoholic, but in the ’80s when actress Sharon Gless played Detective Christine Cagney in the hit drama Cagney & Lacey, that shocked.
âThis is the first time in a drama series that a track has fallen out of favor. It was very dramatic, andâ¦ we had reactions to that,â Gless told Yahoo Entertainment. âMothers write to say, ‘I have asked my children to watch it, so that they understand this disease.’ The teenagers wrote saying, “I want my dad to watch him, because he’s [a] drunk.’ And we did some research, and men were always considered funny when they were drunk. Women were a nuisance. Anyway, we did, and I got the Emmy for that one. “
Gless won one of two Emmy Awards for her performance on the show, which aired from 1981 to 1988, the year they dealt with alcoholism.
But it turned out that playing an alcoholic wasn’t that much of a stretch for her. She later realized that she had a drinking problem herself and enrolled in rehab. She was sober for 15 years before resuming drinking, and is now online almost eight years of abstinence, she told NPR this week.
âI also had the disease of alcoholism, but I didn’t know it at the time,â Gless told Yahoo. âWhen I played those roles and played Christine, I just thought I was a social drinker … with power cuts. And that was at the end of filming all of the Cagney & Laceys that I went to rehab.
In short, the police drama won 14 Emmy Awards, including trophies for Gless as Best Actress in a Drama in 1986 and 1987, and it was nominated for 37.
While Cagney & Lacey was praised for covering some of those topics that others would not touch, which also included abortion and breast cancer, he was also criticized. Some stations refused to broadcast certain episodes. And some critics have chosen Gless’ game aside; she notes that they have always been men.
Still, Gless said she was “very proud” of the team’s work. She writes about her experiences on this show and elsewhere in her new memoirs, Apparently there have been complaints.
âIt was totally unusual, but so is my life,â she says. “I just feel very privileged to have been part of it.”
âVideo produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee