Cagney & Lacey Star Is Terrorized By A Fan Who Threatens to Shoot Herself

Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless is living in fear of an obsessed, suicidal fan.

The fan, 29-year-old Joan Leigh Penn, who is under psychiatric treatment, has been harassing Sharon for nearly a year.

Just a few weeks ago, she approached the star's home in California's San Fernando Valley, telling Sharon's secretary she had a gun and was going to kill herself.

"I'm afraid," Sharon says. "This woman is obviously unbalanced. Who knows what she could do? You never know when, or how, a person will suddenly go crazy."

Penn's psychiatrist, Hubert Nestor, has warned Cagney & Lacey executive producer Barry Rosenweig that his patient poses a "potential problem" for Sharon and those around her.

Meanwhile, a frightened Sharon, 45, who plays Christine Cagney in the hit police series, has had a restraining order slapped against the disturbed fan. According to the order, Penn has sent Sharon letters and tried to see the actress at her home, studio and location sites.

The temporary order keeps the troubled woman at least 2,000 feet from Sharon at all times. A hearing has been set for this week to determine what, if any, charges will be filed against the fan.

An Emmy Awards official remembered Penn from this year's awards, held on Aug. 28. "She came up to me and said, 'I'm crazy about Sharon. I was on the Cagney & Lacey set once, but I didn't get to meet her. I was very disappointed. But Sharon has been kind. She's answered one of my letters. I thought that was very nice of her.'"

The official continued; "This woman was actually pretty nice looking, very slender. She tried to give me two long-stemmed roses with another letter. She wanted me to get them to Sharon. At that point, I realized that there was something too intense about this lady, that this woman might be a problem of some sort. So I motioned to a police officer working security.

"The officer told the woman to stand behind the rope and that she could possibly hand the flowers to Sharon as she passed from her limo to the auditorium. We just kept an eye on her. There was something very spooky about her."

The official noted: "It wasn't what this girl said, it was the way she said it. She was very intense, very serious about getting the flowers and letters to Sharon.

"There was something about her that gave me the willies."

A Cagney & Lacey insider says: "This obsessed fan has Sharon terrified. I hope it ends real soon. Sharon can never handle any kind of anxiety. She is just a very sensitive, delicate personality."

The insider says the harassment comes during a turbulent time in the actress' personal life. "Sharon is still unsettled. The fact that her last year was very rocky romantically doesn't help," the source says.

"After splitting with Hector Figueroa and Barry Rosenzweig, she's living alone for the first time in many years. It's quite an adjustment, and that adds to her anxiety."

Figueroa, a cameraman, was Sharon's beau for five years. Shortly after they split, she dated Rosenzweig, 51, who was temporarily separated from his wife Barbara, one of Sharon's best friends.