She was funny, particularly when swooning over the man she called “my Tommy.” But Rosie O’Donnell, who taped the final episode of her talk show May 22, wasn’t all Cruise and Koosh balls. Using her show as a forum, she promoted mammograms and gun control and raised millions for children’s causes, from scholarships to foster care. Her exit after six seasons also owed something to kids: her own three children, ages 2 to 7, and the baby partner Kelli Carpenter is expecting in December. “Once you have enough money and you continue working to the detriment of your family,” she said May 19, “you miss the whole point of your life.”
JOHN F. KENNEDY JR., February 1997
“I was really sick…but I did not want to cancel the show,” said O’Donnell. “I had a trash bucket under the desk and I would throw up during the commercial.”
After a survey by Scope mouthwash named her one of America’s least kissable celebs, Rosie got rival Listerine to pony up $1,000 to charity for every on-air buss she caught.
TOM SELLECK, May 1999
On the show to plug a movie, Magnum wound up defending his role as spokesman for the National Rifle Association.
Her crush on the actor survived both the breakup of his marriage and her coming out. “He’s overtly kind, and I think he’s a special human being,” she says.
OSMOND, July 1996
In an earlier appearance, he made a joke about Rosie’s weight. To atone, Donny donned doggie drag and sang Puppy Love.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES
For this look-a-like show in her first season, the dress code was all Rosie, all the time. But making the audience that day wasn’t too hard. “I think it was anyone who was, you know, over a size 12 with dark hair, you pretty much got into that show,” says O’Donnell.