U.S. Actor

Tyne Daly, best known as half of the female cop team that formed Cagney & Lacey, won recognition for her role as the New York City detective who was also a wife and mother. With a background in the theater, Daly brought a cultivated artistry to the role of working class Mary Beth Lacey. As written, the character was multi-faceted--a tough cop, a loving wife, a committed mother, a loyal friend. As played by Daly, Mary Beth was even more complex--innocent, compassionate and at times funny, but clear-eyed and confrontational in her dealings with both the "perps" and her best friend and partner, Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless). As Mary Beth, Tyne Daly created a female character for television who was smart though not college-educated, sexy without being glamorous. Mary Beth's marriage with Harvey Lacey (John Karlen) offered what Daly called "a love story" that marked a true departure from TV marriages--a lusty, devoted partnership.

It was Mary Beth's partnership with Christine, however, that drew the attention of most feminist critics for its twist on the countless pairs of male partners and buddies that have populated television. The professional and personal sides of Mary Beth and Christine's relationship often blurred; feelings inevitably got involved. Though seemingly the "softer" of the two, Mary Beth's more rational approach to her job served as ballast in the twosome's investigations.

In addition to the ongoing themes of marriage and women's relationships, Daly was given the opportunity to explore a number of other women's issues. In 1985, Mary Beth discovered a lump in her breast which proved to be cancerous. As a method actor, Daly "lived" with the illness during Mary Beth's diagnosis and treatment, which involved a lumpectomy and radiation rather than the disfiguring mastectomy. She told one reporter, "I realized that as long as there are women being led astray by the medical establishment, women getting hacked into pieces, it's important that I tell the story, and it's important that I face the music." The following season, Daly was pregnant, and her pregnancy was written into the series. The episode in which Mary Beth gave birth to Alice aired on the same day that Tyne Daly gave birth to her daughter.

As the series came to a close, Daly commented, "I played the hell out of [Lacey]. I knew everything there was to know about her." Between 1982 and 1988, Daly's craft was recognized with four Emmys for best actress in a dramatic series.

Besides her work in Cagney & Lacey, Daly is best known for her performance as Mama Rose in Broadway's revival of Gypsy, for which she received the Tony Award as best actress in a musical. Daly also continues to work in television movies and series, choosing roles of social significance. She played the mother of a Down's syndrome child in Kids Like These (1987), a homeless woman in Face of a Stranger (1991), and a Quaker community leader in the series, Christy (1994-95). She has also done more comic turns on Wings, starring her brother, Tim Daly, and on Sharon Gless's series, The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, in which she played an "old friend" who had more in common in looks and manner with the brash Mama Rose than with shy, frumpy Mary Beth. Daly and Gless have also reprised their roles in several Cagney & Lacey made-for-television-movies, two-hour presentations in which the characters continue to develop, in which the memories of both characters and viewers are used to explore a friendship and professional relationship moving further into mid-life complexity.

-Sue Brower


Tyne Daly
Photo courtesy of Tyne Daly

TYNE DALY. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A., 1947. Attended Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; American Music and Dramatic Academy. Married Georg Stanford Brown (divorced); three daughters. Performed at American Shakespeare Festival; made television debut in The Virginian; appeared in film The Enforcer, 1976; starred in television series, Cagney & Lacey, 1982-88; appeared on Broadway in revivals of Gypsy, 1990 and 1991. Recipient: Emmy Awards, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1988; Tony Award, 1990. Agent address: Blake Agency, 415 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, California 90210, U.S.A.


1982-88 Cagney & Lacey
1994     Christy


1971 In Search of America
1971 A Howling in the Woods
1971 Heat of Anger
1973 The Man Who Could Talk to Kids
1974 Larry
1975 The Entertainer
1977 Intimate Strangers
1979 Better Late Than Never
1980 The Women's Room
1981 A Matter of Life and Death
1983 Your Place or Mine
1987 Kids Like These
1989 Stuck with Each Other
1990 The Last to Go
1991 Face of a Stranger
1992 Columbo: A Bird In the Hand
1994 Cagney & Lacey: The Return
1994 The Forget-Me-Not Murders
1995 Cagney & Lacey: Together Again
1995 Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass         Ceiling
1995 Bye, Bye Birdie


The Enforcer, 1976; Telefon, 1977; John and Mary, 1969; Zoot Suit, 1982; The Aviator, 1985; Movers and Shakers, 1985; Speedtrap, 1978; The Adultress, 1973; Play It As It Lays, 1972; Angel Unchained, 1970; Zoot Suit, 1982; The Aviator, 1985; Movers and Shakers, 1985


Gypsy; The Seagull; Call Me Madam; Come Back Little Sheba; Ashes; Black Angel; Gethsemane Springs; Three Sisters; Vanities; Skirmishes; The Rimers of Eldritch; Birthday Party; Old Times; The Butter and Egg Man; That Summer That Fall


D'Acci, Julie. Defining Women: Television and the Case of Cagney and Lacey. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Gordon, Mary. "Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly." Ms. Magazine (New York), January 1987.


See also Cagney and Lacey