The Trials of Rosie O'Neill (legal drama)

from The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, 1946-present, fifth edition, 1992

First Telecast: Sept. 17, 1990. Last telecast: December 19, 1991.

Broadcast history:

  • Sep. 1990-Jan.1991, CBS Mon 10:00-11:00
  • Jan.1991-Jul. 1991, CBS Sun 10:00-11:00
  • Jul.1991-Dec. 1991, CBS Thu 9:00-10:00


  • Fiona Rose "Rosie" O'Neill.....Sharon Gless
  • Hank Mitchell.....Dorian Harewood
  • Ben Meyer.....Ron Rifkin
  • Charlotte O'Neill....Georgann Johnson
  • Doreen Morrison.....Lisa Banes
  • Kim Ginty (age 16).....Lisa Rieffel
  • Barbara Navis.....Bridget Gless
  • Carole Kravitz.....Elaine Kagan
  • Udell Correy, III.....Geoffrey Lower
  • Pete Ramos (1990).....Tony Perez
  • George Shaughnessy (1990-1991)......Al Pugliese
  • D.A. Linda Vargas (1990-1991).....Marisa Redanty
  • D.A. Deb Grant....Meg Foster (occasional appearance)
  • Walter Kravatch (1991)......Edward Asner
  • Valerie Whittaker (1991).....Dayna Winston
  • Mason Pappas (1991)....Victor Bevnie

Theme: "I Wish I Knew," written by Carole King and performed by Melissa Manchester during first season; instrumental thereafter.

Rosie O'Neill 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 Angels County Public Defenders Office thought she was slumming. Rosie's family included Charlotte, her conservative, socially prominent mother; Doreen, her married sister and Kim, her ex-stepdaughter. 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 Ben, Rosie's boss; Hank, the black public defender with whom she shared an office; Carole, the department secretary; Barbara, the young clerk (played by Ms. Gless' niece) who worked part time while attending law school; Udell, Mason, and Valerie, fellow public defenders; and investigators Pete, George and, beginning in the fall of 1991, Walter Kovatch. Kovatch, retired 35-year-veteran of the police force, was a hard-nosed, conservative constantly at odds with liberal Rosie's attitudes about her clients.

Each episode 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.

Gail Reese adds that the series was for two seasons: 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 with Ed Asner. The second season featured a 3-episode story arc guest-starring Robert Wagner as Rosie's love interest.

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