The drama series Cagney & Lacey really paved the way for women to lead a TV show in the powerful roles of police detectives. Tyne Daly, already a celebrated stage actress at the time, was perfect for the role of Mary Beth Lacey, balancing her detective work with her husband and sons back at home. Sharon Gless brought to life her counterpart, Christine Cagney, the single woman who is married to her job. Set at the NYPD in New York City, for seven seasons viewers loved tuning in to see the two women balance their home lives with fighting the bad guys and proving themselves in a male-dominated industry.
Daly and Gless were accompanied by a seriously memorable supporting cast as well. John Karlen played Lacey's husband Harvey with Tony La Torre and Troy Slaten appearing as their two sons. Michael Fairman (Dep. Inspector Knelman), Carl Lumbly (Det Marcus Petrie), Martin Kove (Det Victor Isbecki), Al Waxman (Lt. Bert Samuels), Sidney Clute (Det Paul La Guardia), and Harvey Atkin (desk sergeant Ronald Coleman) all made the NYPD seen on the show look like a very real place and it was easy to become invested in the characters over the years.
Here are 9 things you may have not known about the beloved series Cagney & Lacey.
1. The role of Christine Cagney was recast twice
In the original TV movie, Loretta Swit played Christine Cagney but when the movie was picked up to series, she had to decline because she had already signed a contract to play Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H. Meg Foster stepped in as the first replacement in the first season but was replaced by Sharon Gless who stuck with the role through the end of the series.
2. CBS canceled the TV series twice, but popular demand from fans brought it back
Disappointing viewership at the beginning of the series led to a cancellation that was met by fury from passionate fans, even though only 6 episodes had aired as the first season began midseason. The network decided to bring the show back after Sharon Gless had officially stepped into the role of Cagney hoping that would improve ratings. But after low ratings led to a second cancellation in 1983, a letter-writing campaign led by fans brought the series back and it's a good thing it did. The show was incredibly popular until it ended in its seventh and final season.
3. The show brought in a slew of awards
Tyne Daly won the Emmy Award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama four times and Gless won twice, in addition to bringing home a Golden Globe. Few shows have ever been able to match their impressive winning streak.
4. Sharon Gless married the executive producer
Barney Rosenzweig was initially married to co-creator of the TV show, Barbara Corday, but they ended their marriage in 1990. Rosenzweig married Sharon Gless the following year and they've been together ever since.
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5. The series inspired four TV movies
Fans were missing their favorite two detectives so after the series ended, four TV movies were released that picked up with Cagney and Lacey after the show ended. Det Cagney is working at the District Attorney's office after getting promoted and Lacey has retired from the NYPD.
- Cagney & Lacey: The Return (1994)
- Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (1995)
- Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling (1995)
- Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (1996)
6. There was an attempted reboot
In 2018, CBS attempted to order a reboot of the popular series which starred Sarah Drew (Cagney) and Michelle Hurd (Lacey). Ving Rhames even signed on to play their Captain. Ultimately CBS passed on the completed pilot which we honestly think is for the best. How do you top Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless's chemistry in the original show?!
7. One of the creators put her mother on the show
Barbara Corday, who created the series with Barbara Avedon, put her mother in a few episodes as a "bag lady." How cute is that!
8. There's a George Clooney connection
When Miguel Ferrer and his cousin, Rafael landed guest roles on the series, they took a trip with their cousin afterward to celebrate. After their cousin heard all about their acting he decided to give up trying to be an athlete and pursue an acting career. That cousin would be none other than George Clooney.
9. The names Cagney and Lacey are now pop culture references
In the popular TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Lieutenant Terry Jeffords (played by Terry Crews) named his twin daughters Cagney and Lacey.