"I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like: I am a gay parent."
An award-winning comedian, television host, author and media mogul, Rosie O’Donnell used her celebrity as a platform for activism and philanthropic causes.
Born in Queens, New York, O’Donnell got her big break when she auditioned for “Star Search” and won five times. With her $14,000 winnings, she relocated to Los Angeles and landed a role on the sitcom “Gimme a Break.”
After film roles in “A League of Their Own,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “The Flintstones,” she was offered her own daytime television talk show. During her six years as host of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” she started Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation, which awarded more than $27 million in grants to 1,400 child-related nonprofit organizations.
In 2002, O’Donnell outed herself and became an outspoken advocate for gay parenting. She worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an attempt to overturn Florida’s ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter married in 2004. They are parents of four children. The couple launched R Family Vacations, the first-ever cruise for gay families.
O’Donnell became the moderator of ABC’s all-women daytime talk show, “The View.” She starred on Broadway in “Grease,” “Seussical” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” and founded Rosie’s Broadway Kids, which provides a free theater experience.
Among O’Donnell’s many honors, she has received 13 Emmy Awards, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Vito Russo Award, an induction into the Kid’s Choice Awards Hall of Fame and a Women in Film Lucy Award.
Lee, Felicia R. “On HBO, Rosie O’Donnell’s Cruise for Gay Families.” The New York Times. April 3, 2006
Leff, Lisa. “Rosie O’Donnell Weds Longtime Girlfriend.” The Washington Post. February 26, 2004
Kuczynski, Alex. “She’s Out of the Closet. Now What?” The New York Times. March 3, 2002
Nordlinger, Jay. “Rosie O’Donnell, Political Activist – A Celebrity and her Platform.” National Review. June 19, 2000
Parker, Ray. “Fighting to keep a family.” The Advocate. April 30, 2002
“Rosie Comes Out as ACLU Launches LetHimStay.com.” GLAAD. March 13, 2002
“Rosie O’Donnell.” People. July 2, 2008
“Rosie O’Donnell Marries Girlfriend in San Francisco.” CNN. February 27, 2004
All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise
R Family Vacations
Rosie’s Broadway Kids
Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation
Official Rosie O’Donnell Website