Rosie O'Donnell was born in New York
, the third child of a homemaker and an electrical engineer. Her mother died just before her eleventh birthday. As a teenager she was very popular in high school, and developed her initial interest in comedy, beginning to perform stand-up in 1979. She graduated from high school in 1980, and briefly attended university before dropping out.
O'Donnell first gained national exposure in the early 1980s, when she appeared on the television series Star Search
, which she won for approximately five consecutive weeks. Her success on the show was followed in 1986 by her first scripted appearance, when she appeared on the television series Gimme a Break!
. This was followed two years later by a regular position as a veejay on VH1, where she performed hosting duties for a series entitled Stand-Up Spotlight
. She received her first starring role in 1992, featuring in the sitcom Stand By Your Man,
which performed poorly and was quickly cancelled. That same year, however, she made her first appearance in a feature film, appearing as a supporting character in the film A League of Their Own
. This was followed by a slew of significant supporting roles in films such as Sleepless in Seattle
, Beautiful Girls
, and Disney's Tarzan
In 1996 she began hosting the talk show The Rosie O'Donnell Show
, which was incredibly popular. She used the show as a mouthpiece with which to espouse many of her views regarding issues such as gun control, as well as supporting the performing arts in New York City
. The show won a number of Emmy Awards, as well as accolades for O'Donnell, who was given the nickname "The Queen of Nice". In 2000 she became involved with McCall's Magazine
, which was relaunched as Rosie
. In January of 2002 she appeared on the sitcom Will & Grace
, portraying a lesbian character. She publicly came out as a lesbian a month later, which marked the beginning of her public involvement in activism about LGBT rights, especially as they pertained to gay adoption. In late June of 2002 she left The Rosie O'Donnell Show
, with the stated desire to spend more time with her partner and children. In September of 2002 she left her job with Rosie
after conflict with the editors, which lead in 2003 to a legal battle over breach of contract after the magazine collapsed. The case was ultimately dismissed. In 2003 she and then-partner Kelli Carpenter, along with business partner Gregg Kaminsky, founded R Family Vacations, a vacation company dedicated to providing vacation packages for LGBT families. In 2004 she and Carpenter wed.
In 2006 she became a co-host on the daytime talk show The View
. She proved to be a popular addition to the show, and saw ratings rise by almost 30%. The liberal opinions she expressed on the show occasionally drew criticism, as did occasional remarks which caused controversy for apparent racial insensitivity, however she remained well-liked and a ratings draw. She left the show in the summer of 2007 prior to the expiration of her contract. Also in 2007 she began work on a vlog entitled Jahero
, for which she won a Blogger's Choice Award. Her relationship with Carpenter also ended around this time. In late 2009 she began work on a two-hour radio program, broadcast on Sirius XM, that discussed news and current events. It lasted for two years, ending in 2011. In the fall of 2011 she began work on The Rosie Show
, an evening talk show aired on Oprah Winfrey's
OWN. Also during 2011 she hosted discussions of several documentaries on OWN. In 2011 she became engaged to her current partner, Michelle Rounds. The Rosie Show
was cancelled in late March of 2012 due to lacklustre ratings.