Cagney & Lacey was a CBS network crime drama television series created by Barbara Avedon & Barbara Corday, starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless in the lead roles.
The show aired from March 25, 1982 until May 16, 1988, lasting for seven seasons & 125 episodes.
Set in New York City, "Cagney & Lacey" centered on the lives of two female police detectives: Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless), a single, career-minded woman and Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daly), a married working mother.
Al Waxman co-starred as Cagney and Lacey's good-natured and sometimes blustery supervisor, Lt. Bert Samuels. Carl Lumbly and Martin Kove played (respectively) fellow detectives Marcus Petrie and Victor Isbecki. Sidney Clute played veteran detective Paul La Guardia.
John Karlen co-starred as Mary Beth's husband, Harvey Lacey, and Tony La Torre & Troy Slaten played their sons, Harvey Lacey, Jr. and Michael Lacey, respectively.
Harvey Atkin played desk sergeant Ronald Coleman. Jason Bernard originally had the recurring role of Deputy Inspector Marquette during the first two seasons. When the show was brought back in March 1984 following its second cancellation, Marquette had been replaced by Dep. Inspector Knelman (Michael Fairman), who lasted the duration of the series.
In the fourth season, Christine entered into a relationship with Sergeant Dory McKenna (Barry Primus), who battled a drug addiction. After a tumultuous courtship, she left him and soon after, she took up with a more stable suitor, David Keeler (Stephen Macht), a local attorney.
One of the most significant cast changes occurred early in the fifth season, upon the death of Sidney Clute in October 1985. Off screen, Detective LaGuardia had retired from the 14th Precinct and had moved to New Jersey with a new female companion less than half his age. Clute had completed filming a few episodes of the 1985-86 season prior to his death. In his honor, the producers kept Clute's name in the opening credits for the rest of the series.
LaGuardia's immediate replacement in the fifth season was Det. Jonah Newman (Dan Shor), a boyish ingenue with an elevated sense of himself. Newman, while popular with the guys, was not above stepping on anyone in order to get the coveted promotion of Detective Second Grade. As a result, Chris and Mary Beth had to force a strained relationship with him at best. Newman developed a crush on Chris but she never knew. Eventually, Newman was partnered with veteran Al Corassa (Paul Mantee), who became a regular midway through season five (Mantee had made three guest appearances in late 1985, in which his character's name was Detective Thomas in the first two episodes and Corassa in the third) and officially took up the role of experience that LaGuardia had vacated.
Their partnership met a sad end in May 1986 when Newman was killed from a random gunshot outside of the local district court, just after receiving his promotion to Second Grade.
The beginning of the sixth season saw the arrival of Manny Esposito (Robert Hegyes), a young, street-savvy detective who became Corassa's new partner. There was quite a clash between the two, as Esposito's freewheeling lifestyle (represented by his casual dress on the job, the desire to make a quick buck, and three ex-wives) put him in contrast with Corassa, the older, more conservative family man with a heightened sense of professionalism.
Supporting characters added to the precinct at this time were rookie Officer Tom Basil (Barry Laws) and Officer Beverley Faverty (Beverley Faverty). The following year, Petrie was promoted to sergeant and then left the 14th Precinct (Carl Lumbly had decided to leave the series).
In his place, singer Merry Clayton joined the cast as Verna Dee Jordan, the first new female detective at the precinct since the additions of Cagney and Lacey. Jordan had joined law enforcement in middle age to better herself, after having been a single mother raising four children (now grown) on welfare.
Dick O'Neill played a recurring role as Cagney's alcoholic father, Charlie Cagney, a former NYPD officer who regaled her with stories of the old days; Christine later fought alcoholism as well.
In the fourth season, Mary Beth becomes pregnant and she & Harvey welcome in a baby daughter, Alice in the fall of 1985. Alice Lacey was played by alternating twins Dana & Paige Bardolph from 1985 to 1987 with toddler Michelle Sepe taking over for the seventh season.
The series was followed by four television movies: "Cagney & Lacey: The Return" (in 1994), "Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (in 1995), "Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling" (1995) and "Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions" (in 1996).
The movies reunited the characters Christine Cagney (promoted and now working at the District Attorney's office) and Mary Beth Lacey (now retired from the police force)
- Tyne Daly as Detective Mary Beth Lacey
- Loretta Swit as Detective Christine Cagney #1 [pilot episode]
- Meg Foster as Detective Christine Cagney #2 [season 1]
- Sharon Gless as Detective/Sergeant Christine Cagney #3 [seasons 2-7]
- Al Waxman as Lieutenant Bert Samuels
- Martin Kove as Detective Victor Isbecki
- Carl Lumbly as Detective Mark Petrie
- John Karlen as Harvey Lacey
- Harvey Atkin as Desk Sergeant Ronald Coleman
- Dick O'Neill as Charlie Cagney
- Tony LaTorre as Harvey Lacey, Jr.
- Troy W. Slaten as Michael Lacey
- Sidney Clute as Detective Paul LaGuardia [seasons 2-4]
- Jason Bernard as Deputy Inspector Marquette [season 2]
- Barry Primus as Sergeant Dory McKenna [seasons 3-4]
- Michael Fairman as Inspector Knelman [seasons 3-7]
- Stephen Macht as David Keeler [seasons 5-7]
- Dan Shor as Detective Jonah Newman [season 5]
- Robert Hegyes as Detective Manny Esposito [seasons 6-7]
- Paul Mantee as Detective Al Corassa [seasons 6-7]
- Amanda Wyss as Bridget Cagney [seasons 6-7]
Actress Loretta Swit played the role of Christine Cagney in the original television movie in October 1981, but she was forced to decline the role in the TV series when the producers of M*A*S*H refused to let her out of her contract.
The movie was then picked up as a series, first airing with six episodes as a midseason replacement in the spring of 1982 with Meg Foster playing the role of Cagney.
The show was then picked up for a regular season beginning with the 1982–83 season, but Foster was then replaced by Sharon Gless because CBS deemed her as too aggressive and too likely to be perceived as a lesbian by the viewers.
CBS executives hoped Sharon Gless would portray Cagney as more conventionally "feminine" and attempted to pressure the producers to remake Christine into a more "high-class", snobbish woman from wealthy parents.
Cancellation & Return
"Cagney & Lacey" premiered in March 1982 with high hopes from the industry (in the wake of the TV movie), however, the reviews of the series with Meg Foster in place of Loretta Swit were mixed. Critics praised the level of storytelling, but put emphasis on the aggressiveness that both Tyne Daly and Meg Foster expressed with their characters.
As soon as the six episode order was finished in late April, CBS canceled the program due to poor ratings, but executive producer Barney Rosenzweig was determined to reverse the network's decision.
Sharon Gless had been initially unavailable for the movie and series, which were produced by Orion, because of her long-running contract to Universal Television (she was the last actress ever to be signed to a long-term contract with a studio, in 1972).
Gless was even actively utilizing her Universal contract at the time the series went into production, having taken over as female lead (from Lynn Redgrave who left the series due to a dispute with the producers) on the CBS sitcom "House Calls". However, rumors were also rampant that "House Calls" was getting the axe that spring.
Prior to the unveiling of that year's network upfronts, a CBS executive noted to the press that the cancellation of "Cagney & Lacey" was highly motivated by the jarringly tough nature of the female leads as well as low ratings.
The official claimed that (in response to the strong portrayal of Daly and Foster) that "we've perceived them as dykes". This remark set off massive protest and put Rosenzweig into high gear in his dealings with CBS.
The cancellation of "House Calls" was announced among insider circles just before upfronts, and Rosenzweig pressured CBS executives to relaunch "Cagney & Lacey" in the fall with Sharon Gless replacing Meg Foster.
Gless met with Cagney & Lacey producers again to consider the role, but while always having taken to the character, had doubts about joining for the fall of 1982 because, after appearing on "House Calls", she "didn't want to make a career of replacing actresses".
However, the show's ratingswere still low during the first year that Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless co-starred on the series. The show was canceled by CBS a second time in May 1983, but after almost a year of decreased buzz about the show, an ever larger public outcry exploded upon the series's axing. Fans of the show (organized by Rosenzweig) staged a letter-writing campaign.
At the same time, CBS switched its time slot for what was to have been its final three months on the air during summer reruns. This relocation resulted in the ratings suddenly rising.
The viewer protest (coupled with the post-cancellation improvement in the Nielsens and the Emmy nomination that year in which Tyne Daly won in September resulted in success for the public. That fall, CBS announced the return of "Cagney & Lacey" as a mid-season entry.
The network would have wanted to return it sooner, but not long after the second cancelation came to pass, the sets at Orion had already been destroyed and the cast had been let out of their contracts. One cast member, Tony La Torre had already joined another series, the ABC sitcom "9 to 5."
When nearly all of the "Cagney & Lacey" cast received new contracts in late 1983, La Torre returned as well after "9 to 5" was canceled by ABC just weeks into the 1983–84 season.
The series went back into production in January 1984 and returned to air on March 19, 1984 of that year. TV Guide celebrated the show's return with the cover reading: "Welcome Back, Cagney & Lacey -- You want them! You've got them!".
The show finished in the top 10 for the 1983–84 season, and went on to earn 36 Emmy Award nominations and 14 wins throughout its run until 1988, including six nominations for stars Tyne Daly and Sharron Gless: four wins for Daly and two for Gless.
The series itself won two consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Drama Series in 1985 and 1986. The show's ratings leveled out to where it hovered around 30th place in the Nielsens during seasons four to six, a period where many state the show to have been in its creative peak.
"Cagney & Lacey" continued to air Monday nights at 10/9c until the middle of the 1987-88 season, holding its own against ABC's "Monday Night Football" and "NBC Monday Night at the Movies."
Midway through the show's seventh season, "Cagney & Lacey" was moved to Tuesdays at 10/9c, where it began to compete agains show such as "thirtysomething" (on ABC) and "Crime Story" (on NBC). The show lost viewers to the first-year critical success of thirtysomething, which (despite being the time slot winner) only ranked #45 overall.
CBS' reason for relocating "Cagney & Lacey" was because it was believed that its Monday slot would further build an audience for "Wiseguy" (another new critical hit of the season that had average ratings at best).
By the end of the season, "Cagney & Lacey" was left at 53rd place and the 20-point drop from the previous season was enough for CBS to have doubts about renewing the show.
With the final episode of the seventh season ending on a cliffhanger, CBS was considering bringing the show back, but when the May 1988 upfronts were released, the show's cancellation was confirmed. For the summer of 1988, the series moved one last time, not back to its familiar Monday time slot, but to Thursdays at 10 pm EST/9 CST.
For six consecutive years, one of the two lead actresses won the Emmy for "Best Lead Actress in a Drama" (four wins for Tyne Daly and two for Sharon Gless), making it a winning streak unmatched in any major category by a show.
Primetime Emmy Awards
- 1983: Nomination for Outstanding Drama Series
- 1983: Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1983: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1984: Nomination for Outstanding Drama Series
- 1984: Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1984: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1985: Award for Outstanding Drama Series
- 1985: Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1985: Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (Karen Arthur)
- 1985: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1985: Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (John Karlen)
- 1986 Award for Outstanding Drama Series
- 1986: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1986: Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1986: Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (John Karlen)
- 1986: Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (Georg Stanford Brown)
- 1987: Nomination for Outstanding Drama Series
- 1987: Nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (Sharron Miller)
- 1987: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1987: Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1987: Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (John Karlen)
- 1988 Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1988: Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
Golden Globe Awards
- 1983: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1983: Nomination for Best Drama Series
- 1984: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1984: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1984: Nomination for Best Drama Series
- 1985: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1985: Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1985: Nomination for Best Drama Series
- 1986: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Tyne Daly)
- 1986: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1986: Nomination for Best Drama Series
- 1987: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
- 1988: Nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series (Sharon Gless)
Directors Guild Awards
- 1987: Nomination for Best Director in a Drama Series (Sharron Miller)