Home Television Drama Trials of Rosie O’Neill, The

Trials of Rosie O’Neill, The

1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 2 (USA)
34 x 60 minute episodes

Rosie O’Neill (former Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless) was a successful, recently divorced 43-year-old attorney who had left the lucrative Beverly Hills law practice she had shared with her ex-husband to become a public defender.

Rosie’s life was one of constant anguish. Her new career did not sit well with either her friends or family, who couldn’t understand why she would take such a frustrating low-paying job, and the personnel in the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Office thought she was slumming.

Rosie’s family included her conservative, socially prominent mother Charlotte (Georgann Johnson); her married sister, Doreen (Lisa Banes); and Kim (Lisa Rieffel), her ex-husband’s daughter. Kim had grown so close to Rosie that, when she had trouble at home with her father’s young third wife early in the second season, she moved in with Rosie.

The office staff consisted of Rosie’s boss, Ben (Ron Rifkin); Hank (Dorian Harewood), the public defender with whom she shared an office; Carole (Elaine Kagan), the department secretary; Barbara (Bridget Gless, the star’s niece), the young clerk who worked part-time while attending law school; fellow public defenders Udell (Geoffrey Lower), Mason (Victor Bevine), and Valerie (Dayna Winston); and investigators Pete (Tony Perez), George (Al Pugliese), and Walter Kovacs (Edward Asner).

Kovacs was a retired 35-year-veteran of the police force and a hard-nosed conservative, constantly at odds with liberal Rosie’s attitudes about her clients.

Most episodes of the series opened with neurotic Rosie in her analyst’s office, talking about personal and professional problems she was trying to work out. The part of the analyst, always seen from the rear, was played by series producer Barney Rosenzweig, who had also produced Ms Gless’ previous series Cagney & Lacey. The two were living together when Rosie premiered, and they were married in the spring of 1991.

Robert Wagner joined the show in 1992 in an attempt to save it from cancellation. He played suave Peter Donovan, the new editor of the Los Angeles Chronicle who became Rosie’s lover. It became a bittersweet relationship for her when she discovered he was not actually divorced from his wife.

The theme tune I Wish I Knew, was written by Carole King and performed by Melissa Manchester during the first season. It was played as an instrumental thereafter.

Fiona Rose “Rosie” O’Neill
Sharon Gless
Ben Meyer
Ron Rifkin
Hank Mitchell
Dorian Harewood
Charlotte O’Neill
Georgann Johnson
Doreen Morrison
Lisa Banes
Kim Ginty
Lisa Rieffel
Valerie Whittaker
Dayna Winston
Walter Kovacs
Edward Asner
Barbara Navis
Bridget Gless
Carole Kravitz
Elaine Kagan
Udell Correy III
Geoffrey Lower
Pete Ramos
Tony Perez
George Shaughnessy
Al Pugliese
DA Linda Vargas
Marisa Redanty
DA Deb Grant
Meg Foster
Mason Pappas
Victor Bevine
DA Suzanne Ramey
Karen Austin
Peter Donovan
Robert Wagner