- Comedienne; television talk-show host
- Anti-gun activist
- Strong supporter of Democratic Party
- Supports gay marriage
- Opposes Iraq war
Rosie O'Donnell was born on March 21, 1962 in Long Island, New York. After being voted "Most Popular" and Homecoming Queen in high school, she dropped out of Boston University after one year to pursue a career in show business. She started out doing stand-up comedy, for which she won $20,000 on the program Star Search, and she played bit parts in a number of television sitcoms. By the early 1990s O'Donnell was getting co-starring roles in major films, including A League of Their Own (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and Exit to Eden (1994). From 1996 to 2002, she hosted her own daytime talk show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show. In 1997 Time magazine named her one of the 25 most influential people in the United States.
In 2000, O'Donnell and the publishers of McCall's collaborated to revamp that publication under the name Rosie, a magazine that would focus on social and political issues. The new periodical was launched in 2001 and folded in 2003 due to financial difficulties. The publishers of Rosie attributed the magazine's failure to O'Donnell's uncooperative and rude behavior with the staff.
Early in 2002, O'Donnell publicly announced that she is a lesbian. On February 26, 2004, she entered a legal union with former Nickelodeon marketing executive Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco, shortly after that city's mayor had authorized the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The couple adopted two boys and a girl. Their fourth child, Vivienne Rose, was conceived by means of sperm donation and was born to Carpenter in November 2002.
In 2006 O'Donnell replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host of the ABC talk show The View, where O'Donnell's politically charged commentary frequently generated controversy. On April 25, 2007, she announced that she would be leaving The View as a regular co-host when her contract expired two months later. O'Donnell left The View following her on-air argument with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Wednesday, May 23, 2007, although her contract wasn't due to expire until June 22.
Over the years, O'Donnell has taken very public and confrontational political stands, almost uniformly against Republicans and conservatives. "I have a responsibility as well as an opportunity to speak to millions of people on a daily basis," she says.
At a 1996 New York City event supporting President Bill Clinton, O'Donnell at one point entertained the crowd by shouting, "[Republican Presidential nominee Bob] Dole sucks!"
Shortly after news of the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in early 1998, O'Donnell defended Mr. Clinton, calling him "captivating," "strikingly handsome," and "warm-hearted." "He's a very good President and I would hate to have this tarnish his reputation or his place in history," she said.
After the Columbine school shootings of 1999, O'Donnell spoke out strongly in favor of sweeping new gun-control measures. Not long after the shootings, actor Tom Selleck appeared on her program to promote his new movie. O'Donnell attacked Selleck because he had done some publicity work for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
O'Donnell also became involved with the anti-gun group Million Mom March (MMM), serving as the group's emcee during its initial Mother's Day demonstration in Washington on May 14, 2000. When O'Donnell was asked by ABC's Cokie Roberts whether her participation in MMM was politically biased, she replied that "I will always support the Democrats and I love the Democratic agenda about gun control." O'Donnell's stance on gun control has been viewed by some as hypocritical, in light of the fact that her personal bodyguards carry guns to protect her and her family.
Shortly before Election Day 2000, O'Donnell had Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore as a guest on her program, showering him with praise and asking him a string of non-confrontational questions that served as springboards from which Gore could launch his campaign pitches. When the interview ended, O'Donnell told Gore, "It is thrilling to have you here, sir. I hope to see you in the White House come November."
In 2002 O'Donnell hosted a campaign fundraiser on behalf of former Attorney General Janet Reno's run for the Florida Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Said O'Donnell, "When I heard she was running, I called up her office and said I would do everything and anything I can [to help her] … right up until Election Day."
In a 2003 appearance on MSNBC's Phil Donahue program, O'Donnell criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. "This is not the American way of life. This is not American values. When there are alternate means, when the UN, an organization that is set up to prevent World War III, is saying please follow these rules and we are saying, no, we won't. Out like a cowboy alone." During that same interview, O'Donnell impugned the U.S. for having introduced nuclear weapons to the world: "We created the nuclear weapons and now all the other people have them, too. And we're getting mad. Right. Guess who started the game? We did. We did … And still, we're the only nation that's ever used nuclear atomic weapons on human beings. We did it twice. Hiroshima, Nagasaki. We did it."
When President Bush in 2004 endorsed a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage strictly as a union between a man and a woman, O'Donnell raged: "It will be the first time, except for prohibition, that bigotry has been added to the Constitution." She added: "I think the actions of the President are, in my opinion, the most vile and hateful words ever spoken by a sitting President. I am stunned, and I'm horrified."
In a May 2005 interview with Geraldo Rivera, O'Donnell charged that since President Bush had "invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN, he is basically a war criminal." "Honestly," she said. "He should be tried at The Hague." She also used the occasion to defend Jane Fonda's decision to visit North Vietnam in 1972.
On September 13, 2006, O'Donnell said that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America." Condemning the U.S. military response to 9/11, she added: "We were attacked not by a nation. And as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries."
In October 2006 O'Donnell equated the tactics of South Africa's former apartheid government with those of the Bush administration: "The blacks in South Africa, who were trying to fight for their own civil rights, were called terrorists and the government was allowed to arrest them at will and interrogate them ... just on the suspicion. Very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act."
The following month, O'Donnell likened the atmosphere in post-9/11 America to that of the "McCarthy era," charging that people were now being "blacklisted" and labeled "unpatriotic" for dissenting from Bush administration policies. She also advised Americans, "Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers."
In mid-March 2007, after it was reported that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had confessed to his role in 9/11 and many other terrorist plots, O'Donnell expressed doubt about the veracity of his admissions. "I think the man has been in custody of the American government," she said, "in secret CIA torture prisons in Guantanamo Bay, where torture is accepted and allowed, and he finally is the guy who admits to doing everything."
Also in March 2007, O'Donnell suggested that the American government was hiding the truth about its own role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In April 2007, after the Supreme Court ruled that a congressional ban on partial-birth abortion was constitutional, O'Donnell called the decision "frightening," adding that "it's as if the women's movement never happened." "You know what concerns me?" she continued. "How many Supreme Court judges are Catholics. ... Five. How about separation of church and state in America?"
In September 2007, WorldNetDaily reported that its Jerusalem bureau chief, Aaron Klein, had recently interviewed several senior terrorist leaders and asked them to give their views of certain high-profile Americans, one of whom was Rosie O'Donnell. Klein informed the terrorists, who had never heard of O'Donnell, that she was a well-known television personality. He then proceeded to read to them a series of O'Donnell's political statements, with which they mostly agreed.
For example, Klein informed them that:
(a) O'Donnell has stated that the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay "robs [the inmates] them of their humanity" by "treating them like animals" and subjecting them to "torture … on a daily basis."
(b) Urging Americans not to fear so-called terrorists, O'Donnell has said: "You can walk through life believing in the goodness of the world, or walk through life afraid of anyone who thinks different than you and trying to convert them to your way of thinking. Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers."
(c) In March 2007, after an Iranian ship had illegally seized and detained a group of British sailors in Iraqi waters, O'Donnell opined that Iran was the victim of a British-U.S. conspiracy to create a pretext for war.
According to WorldNetDaily, "One O'Donnell gem [which] … the assembled terrorists liked the most was when they were informed [that] O'Donnell [had] raised questions on her online blog about the 9/11 attacks, implying the buildings were brought down in part to destroy documents incriminating oil giant Enron and other major corporations."
"I agree with everything O'Donnell said," declared Ramadan Adassi, chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank's Anskar refugee camp. A West Bank Brigades chieftain added: "Many people have been saying this [about 9/11] since the first moment it happened. Of course when it comes from persons like O'Donnell, who you say is respected, it takes a more serious significance. I guess she knows what she is saying." Senakreh, unaware that O'Donnell is an open lesbian, publicly invited her to visit the Palestinian territories.
O'Donnell has her own Internet blog, where she writes mainly on the social and political topics that interest her. Her postings are generally brief, random musings written without punctuation or attention to spelling or grammatical rules.
O'Donnell has made numerous campaign contributions to political candidates over the years. Among the beneficiaries of her largesse have been John Kerry, Corrine Brown, Lane Evans, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Carolyn McCarthy, Erin Gruwell, and the group EMILY's List. All the individual recipients were Democrats except one: in June 1999 O'Donnell contributed $1,000 to Republican Elizabeth Dole.