April 21, 1997 12:00 PM

Rosie O’Donnell treasures all the mementos lining the walls of the workspace in her three-bedroom Manhattan apartment. The handwritten note from Barbra Streisand. The photos of herself with friends and former costars like Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor and Meg Ryan. But when it comes to the Wall, the rows of built-in wooden shelves that hold her toy collection, O’Donnell can be downright obsessive. “If you take one and put it in the wrong spot, she can pick it out in a second,” says her sister Maureen, 33, a New Jersey homemaker. “Sometimes I do it just to annoy her.”

The collection—which O’Donnell’s 23-month-old son Parker calls “Mama toys”—includes the original 1960 Chatty Cathy doll, a Mrs. Beasley from Family Affair, an original Kitty Carry-All doll from The Brady Bunch given to her by Maureen McCormick, and a host of figures from such classic TV shows as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie. Not to mention the more than 2,500 McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, which O’Donnell, 35, began collecting while touring the country as a standup comic in the mid-’80s. “They reminded me of my childhood,” she says. “I started going to McDonald’s every week.” Now, of course, either fans or the company itself often send O’Donnell the figures as soon as they are released—a perk that the talk-show host confesses causes her mixed feelings. “There was some joy in having to go get them,” she says, “but when McDonald’s heard I collect them, they sent me all of the 101 Dalmatians. Although that ruins it in some capacity, I have to say the level of joy I felt when I held all 101 in my hands is sort of indescribable.”

You May Like

EDIT POST