Cagney & Lacey

Cagney & Lacey Information

Cagney & Lacey is an American television series that originally aired on the CBS television network for seven seasons from October 8, 1981 to May 16, 1988. A police procedural, the show stars Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless as New York City police detectives who lead very different lives: Christine Cagney (Gless) was a single, career-minded woman, while Mary Beth Lacey (Daly) was a married working mother. The series was set in a fictionalized version of Manhattan's 14th Precinct (Midtown South).

The two main actresses combined to win the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama six consecutive years, a winning streak unmatched in any major category by a show.

Original cast

Actress Loretta Swit played the role of Christine Cagney in the original television movie (October 1981), but she was forced to decline the role in the 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 Foster too aggressive and too likely to be perceived as a lesbian by the viewers.

CBS executives hoped that Sharon Gless would portray Christine Cagney as more conventionally "feminine" and attempted to pressure the producers to remake Christine into a more "high-class", snobbish woman from wealthy parents. Barney Rosenzweig and Barbara Corday initially refused to change Christine Cagney from a tough, witty, working-class woman. Shortly into Gless' tenure on the program, Rosenzweig and Corday compromised with the network brass. They further developed Cagney's background, explaining gradually in the storyline that she was born to a wealthy mother, who had married Charles Cagney, a New York detective from working-class roots who soon divorced from his wife after Christine was born. Chris was then raised in her mother's uptown Westchester world, which she appreciated; however, the trappings of high society sometimes drove her to miss her father's lifestyle, and she and her father therefore established a special bond.

Cagney, as a result, was portrayed as more glamorous and vivacious than partner Mary Beth Lacey, but could still relate to the world with attitudes that could be shared by people across the social spectrum. The character's appeal to the "every man" or "every woman" led to enduring popularity with millions of fans, and was a significant factor in the show's success.


Al Waxman co-stars as Cagney and Lacey's good-natured and sometimes blustery supervisor, Lt. Bert Samuels. Carl Lumbly, Martin Kove, and Sidney Clute also co-star respectively as fellow detectives Marcus Petrie, Victor Isbecki, and Paul LaGuardia. John Karlen also co-stars as Lacey's husband, Harvey, and Tony La Torre and Troy Slaten played their sons Harvey Lacey, Jr. and Michael Lacey, respectively. Harvey Atkin also has a regular role as 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 Sgt. Dory McKenna (Barry Primus), who battled a drug addiction. After a tumultuous courtship, Christine left him and soon after 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, when Det. LaGuardia was written out of the series. His exit from the show had happened offscreen; LaGuardia had retired from the 14th Precinct and had moved to New Jersey with a new female companion who was less than half his age. The move to write the character off the show was prompted by the death of Sidney Clute in October 1985, after the actor had only completed a few episodes of the 1985"86 season. 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. 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 Det. 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 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 departed 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; she and 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.

Cancellation and return

Cagney & Lacey premiered in March 1982 with high hopes from the industry, in the wake of the TV movie. Reviews of the series, however, with Meg Foster in place of Loretta Swit, were instantly mixed. Critics praised the level of storytelling, but put emphasis on the aggressiveness that both Daly and Foster expressed with their characters. Although the press wasn't initially bad, ratings tanked well below the performance of the TV movie; as soon as the six episode order was finished in late April, CBS canceled the program. Executive producer Barney Rosenzweig, however, was determined to reverse the network's decision. Well aware that Daly and Foster received much notice for their ultra-feminist, masculine portrayals of the female detectives, Rosenzweig believed that perhaps another attempt to hire Sharon Gless for the role of Cagney would cause CBS to recant their action.

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 (in place of Lynn Redgrave) on the CBS sitcom House Calls. However, rumors were also rampant that House Calls was getting the axe that spring, in a matter similarly related to politics rather than ratings (it was the No. 8 show on television during the 1980"81 season, and was still in the top 30 even after Gless replaced Redgrave). Rosenzweig had to wait until the fall schedule was released at upfronts in May to learn if Gless was going to be available, but it was further unclear if Universal would have allowed her out of her contract.

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. Sure enough, the cancelation of House Calls was announced among insider circles just before upfronts, and Rosenzweig pressured CBS executives to relaunch Cagney & Lacey in the fall with Gless replacing 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 House Calls, she "didn't want to make a career of replacing actresses". The convincing nature of Rosenzweig, and the continued endearment of the Christine Cagney character to Gless had her relent in the end, and she was officially on board. Gless and Rosenzweig successfully prompted Universal to terminate the actress' contract, and with the promise that Gless would play a more feminine Cagney, CBS granted Cagney & Lacey a last-minute berth on the fall schedule.

Ratings, unfortunately, were still low during the first year Daly and Gless starred on the series together. Cagney & Lacey was canceled by CBS a second time in May 1983, in which, after almost a year of decreased buzz about the show, an ever larger public outcry exploded. 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 (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, on Monday, March 19, 1984. 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 was able to return as well, since 9 to 5 was canceled by ABC just weeks into the 1983"84 season. Cagney & Lacey was back into production by January 1984.

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 Daly and 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. Despite continued ratings prosperity and Emmy wins for its stars, rumors of the show's permanent cancellation still circulated every year at renewal time.

The series 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 its seventh season, Cagney & Lacey was moved to Tuesdays at 10/9c, where it began to compete against scripted series thirtysomething (ABC) and Crime Story (NBC). Cagney & Lacey lost viewers from the freshman critical success 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 to bring the show back, but when May 1988 upfronts were released, Cagney & Lacey's permanent cancellation had indeed occurred. For the summer of 1988, the series moved one last time, not back to its familiar Monday time slot, but to Thursdays at 10/9c.

The series also gained considerable popularity internationally. It was originally shown in the UK on BBC1 where it regularly made the top 10.

Theme music

The first-season main-titles are accompanied by the theme song "Ain't That the Way" by Michael Stull, sung by Marie Cain, and show Cagney and Lacey being promoted to plainclothes detectives and later disguised as prostitutes. This was replaced the following season by an instrumental theme composed by Bill Conti set to a collage of action and comical scenes featuring the characters from the series.

The theme tune is sampled in the 2006 "Uniting Nations Dance Remix" of the song "All Out Of Love" by the band 14th Precinct.


Main article: List of Cagney & Lacey episodes

Awards and Nominations

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 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)
  • 1987 Nomination for Outstanding Drama Series
  • 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)

After the series

The series was followed by four television movies which 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).

  • Cagney & Lacey: The Return (1994)
  • Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (1995)
  • Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling (1995)
  • Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (1996)
Following the conclusion of Cagney & Lacey, Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless have reunited onscreen three times: all three times playing different characters. Daly guest-starred in an episode of Gless' 1990 series The Trials of Rosie O'Neill; Gless then guest-starred in 2003 on an episode of Daly's successful TV series, Judging Amy, while Daly appeared in 2010 in an episode of Gless's new series, Burn Notice.

DVD releases

On May 8, 2007, MGM Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Season 1 of Cagney & Lacey on DVD in Region 1. The release coincided with the 25th anniversary of the series and it features the first full season of the show (which is actually the second season of the series) when Sharon Gless joined the cast as Cagney.

The quartet of TV movies entitled The Menopause Years was released in 2009 by S'more Entertainment. The deluxe set contains the complete collection of post-series TV movies. In addition, one of the features, Cagney & Lacey: The Return, was released separately on the same day. As of 2012, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

In November 2012, Visual Entertainment released Cagney & Lacey - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 32-disc set contains all episodes of the series featuring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless (seasons 2-7). They also released a separate season 2 release on the same day.

A separate collection only available to purchase online, entitled Cagney & Lacey - 30th Anniversary Limited Edition was released on November 27, 2012. This 38-disc set contains all the content from The Complete Series set as well as the pilot episode, the complete first season with Meg Foster as Cagney and Tyne Daly as Lacey, all four post-series Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years made-for-TV movies and special bonus features exclusive to this collection, such as an autographed photo from Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, an audio book of Barney Rosenzweig's "Cagney & Lacey ... and Me" An Inside Hollywood Story OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blonde, and footage of the British Film Institute's Cagney & Lacey 30th Anniversary Event from London. The Limited Edition DVD set is available through the official Cagney & Lacey website.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
The Complete First Season 22 May 8, 2007 "Breaking The Laws of TV" featurette
The Complete Second Season 22 November 13, 2012
The Menopause Years 4 September 29, 2009 Includes all 4 post-series tele-films
30th Anniversary - The Complete Series 119 November 13, 2012 Includes all Cagney & Lacey season 2-7 episodes
30th Anniversary - The Complete Series Limited Edition with bonus features 125 November 8, 2012 Includes all Cagney & Lacey season 1-7 episodes, the original made-for-TV movie starring Loretta Swit plus extra features


Since October 2009, all 125 episodes of Cagney & Lacey have been available as a digital download on iTunes in the UK and North America and were also licensed to Netflix for American viewers via the streaming option, which has expired as of April 2012. It is no longer available. In 2011 the four post-series telefilms were also added to the streaming option after they were licensed to Netflix partner Starz. That partnership ended in February 2012 and the telefilms ceased to be running on Netflix streaming. The inaugural television movie (with Loretta Swit as Cagney) has not yet been made available by way of either digital download or streaming.

  • Cagney & Lacey: The Lost Episodes "? 6 episodes from Season 1
  • Cagney & Lacey: The True Beginning "? 22 episodes from Season 2
  • Season 3 "? 7 episodes from Season 3
  • Season 4 "? 22 episodes from Season 4
  • Season 5 "? all 24 episodes from Season 5
  • Season 6 "? all 22 episodes from Season 6
  • Season 7 "? all 22 episodes from Season 7

See also

  • 1982 in television
  • Scott & Bailey - a UK TV series with a similar premise

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cagney_%26_Lacey" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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