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The Cast of ‘Cagney & Lacey’: The Secrets Behind The Badge

Plus, find out which actor had a father, brother, husband and daughter in showbiz.


The cast of Cagney & Lacey followed the lives and careers of two dedicated female police detectives, Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey. The groundbreaking television series ran from 1982 to 1988, revolutionizing the portrayal of women in law enforcement. The characters and the actresses who brought them to life played a pivotal role in challenging gender stereotypes in television.

The show was cancelled at the end of the 1982-83 season due to low ratings. In response, viewers wrote to CBS, protesting the cancellation. This effort, combined with the show’s increasing ratings during the summer reruns, prompted the network to reverse the decision. Although the cast members had just been released from their contracts, they were soon brought back to work on the show. The series was reinstated in March of 1984, and ran until 1988.

Stars of television show Cagney and Lacey cast on set
1982/1987 Pictorial Parade/Getty; Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty

Did you know?

The screenplay for the pilot was originally written in the 1970s for a feature film that never materialized. After the success of Charlie’s Angels (1976), producer Barney Rosenzweig shopped an edited version of the screenplay as a possible television series. It took many years for the script to be produced, because the networks felt that there was no audience for a realistic show about female detectives.

Cagney & Lacey cast

Here, more than 40 years after the show aired, we are catching up with the Cagney & Lacey cast and seeing what they’ve been up to since the show!

Tyne Daly as Mary Beth Lacey

Tyne Daly as Mary Beth Lacey (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
1982/2022Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer; David Livingston / Contributor/Getty

Tyne Daly was already an accomplished actress when she took on the role of Mary Beth Lacey. She was born on February 21, 1946, in Madison, Wisconsin, into a family deeply rooted in the world of entertainment. Her father, James Daly, was a renowned actor, and her brother, Tim Daly, would go on to have roles in Wings, The Sopranos and Private Practice.

Before Cagney & Lacey, Tyne Daly appeared on screen several times, including roles in The Enforcer (1976) and Zoot Suit (1981).

As part of the Cagney & Lacey cast, Daly played Mary Beth Lacey, a dedicated mother and police detective. Her character was known for her strong sense of ethics and commitment to her job, often balancing the demands of her family and her career. Daly earned four Primetime Emmy awards for her portrayal of Mary Beth Lacey.

Daley after Cagney & Lacey

After the show, Daly continued her acting career. She appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Christy (1994-1995) and Judging Amy (1999-2005), for which she won a sixth Emmy. She also returned to the theater, earning critical acclaim for her stage performances. Most notably, she earned a Tony Award for her work in the play Gypsy in 1989.

Later, Daly appeared in the television movie Undercover Christmas (2003). In 2010 she reunited with her Cagney and Lacey costar Sharon Gless in a guest role on the series Burn Notice.

In the fall of 2018, Daly joined the cast of the revival of the Murphy Brown series, playing the character of Phyllis, who runs the bar which Murphy and her coworkers often patronize.

Did you know?

From season two onwards, the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series went to one of the stars of this show. Tyne Daly won the award four times and Sharon Gless won twice.

Daly was married to Georg Stanford Brown from 1966 to 1990. Brown was also an actor, he starred in The Rookies from 1972 to 1976. Together, Daly and Brown have three daughters, including actress Kathryne Dora Brown. Brown appeared in Poison Ivy II (1996), The Reading Room (2005) and Private Practice (2007).

Sharon Gless as Christine Cagney

Sharon Gless as Christine Cagney (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
1985/2022 Bob Riha Jr / Contributor/Getty; Vincent Sandoval / Contributor/Getty

Sharon Gless, born on May 31, 1943, in Los Angeles, California, was no stranger to the world of acting. Her father, William Gless, was a successful television executive, and her mother, Marjorie McCarthy, was an actress.

Sharon Gless gained recognition for her role in the TV series Switch (1975-1978).

In Cagney & Lacey, Gless portrayed the fiery and independent detective Christine Cagney. Her character was known for her determination to excel in a male-dominated profession, her dedication to her job, and her occasionally tumultuous personal life. She won two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Christine Cagney.

Other notable roles include her performance in the film The Star Chamber (1983) and her role as Debbie Novotny in the iconic series Queer as Folk (2000-2005).

In 2006, Gless starred in the BBC television series The State Within. Additionally, she earned an Emmy Award nomination for her role in Nip/Tuck as an unstable agent named Colleen Rose.

Most recently, in 2017, Gless appeared in the BBC’s medical drama Casualty.

Did you know?

Loretta Swit played Christine Cagney in the television movie that inspired the series. Swit couldn’t continue in the role due to her contract with M*A*S*H (1972). After the first season, Sharon Gless won the role, and played Cagney for six years.

Related: ‘M*A*S*H’ Cast: See the Stars Then and Now

Executive producer Barney Rosenzweig was married to co-creator Barbara Corday when the series started. They eventually divorced, and Rosenzweig later married Sharon Gless in 1991.

Al Waxman as Lt. Bert Samuels

Al Waxman as Lt. Bert Samuels (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
1951University of Southern California / Contributor/Getty; Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis/Getty

Al Waxman, born on March 2, 1935, in Toronto, Canada, was a respected actor known for his work on both stage and screen. He gained recognition for his role in the Canadian television series King of Kensington (1975-1980).

In the Cagney and Lacey cast, Waxman played the role of Lt. Bert Samuels, a tough yet compassionate leader who served as the commanding officer of the detectives in the 14th Precinct. He was a mentor and friend to both Cagney and Lacey, and his character provided guidance and support throughout the series.

After the show, Waxman continued his acting career in both Canada and the United States. He appeared in various TV shows and films, including Sword of Gideon (1986) and The Believers (1987).

Al Waxman passed away in 2001 at the age of 65.

Did you know?

Waxman’s birth name was Albert Samuel Waxman, his character’s name in the Cagney and Lacey cast was Albert Samuels.

John Karlen as Harvey Lacey

John Karlen as Harvey Lacey (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
1986/2007 MediaPunch / Contributor/Getty; Chad Buchanan / Contributor/Getty

John Karlen, born on May 28, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, had a diverse acting career, including stage, film, and television. He gained recognition for his role as Willie Loomis in the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1967-1971).

In the cast of Cagney and Lacey, Karlen portrayed Harvey Lacey, Mary Beth’s husband, who was supportive of her demanding career as a detective. His character, a contractor by trade, faced the challenges of being married to a strong-willed and dedicated police officer.

After the show, John Karlen continued his acting career with appearances in various TV shows, including Murder, She Wrote and The Waltons. He also made a return to the world of Dark Shadows by appearing in the revival series in the early ’90s.

Karlen passed away in 2020 at the age of 86.

Did you know?

While they were well matched as a married couple, John Karlen was 13 years older than Tyne Daly.

Martin Kove as Detective Victor Isbecki

Martin Kove as Detective Victor Isbecki (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
2002/2023 David Klein/Getty; Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Martin Kove was born on March 6, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York.

In the Cagney and Lacey cast, Kove portrayed Detective Victor Isbecki, a fellow detective at the 14th Precinct. Isbecki was often portrayed as a somewhat chauvinistic character, which added to the dynamic and conflicts within the precinct.

Outside Cagney & Lacey, Kove is best known for his role as John Kreese in The Karate Kid (1984) series, a role he would reprise in the popular Netflix series Cobra Kai (2021).

Did you know?

Kove is the father of twins, born in 1990. One of the twins, Jesse Kove, portrayed the young man who bullies the younger version of his father’s character, John Kreese, in flashbacks for seasons 3 and 4 of Cobra Kai.

Carl Lumbly as Detective Mark Petrie

Carl Lumbly as Detective Mark Petrie (The Cast of Cagney and Lacey)
1982/2022Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Corey Nickols / Contributor/Getty

Carl Lumbly was born on August 14, 1951, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In the Cagney and Lacey cast, Lumbly played Detective Mark Petrie, a compassionate and level-headed detective who worked alongside Cagney and Lacey at the 14th Precinct. His character added a sense of camaraderie and unity among the detectives.

Lumbly had notable appearances in films like The Bedroom Window (1987) and shows like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994). He also played the role of Marcus Dixon in Alias (2001-2006).

Harvey Atkin as Desk Sgt. Ronald Coleman

Harvey Atkin
Harvey Atkin, 2010

Harvey Atkin, born on December 18, 1942, in Toronto, Canada, was known for his work in film and television. He had gained recognition for his roles in Meatballs (1979) and Atlantic City (1980).

In the Cagney & Lacey cast, Atkin portrayed Desk Sgt. Ronald Coleman, who served as the affable and somewhat harried desk sergeant at the 14th Precinct. His character added humor and warmth to the precinct’s daily operations.

Following the show, Atkin continued his acting career with appearances in various TV shows and films. He lent his voice to the popular animated series Inspector Gadget (1983-1986) and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (1989).

He passed away 2017.

For more 80’s TV, click through the links below!

Origin of ‘Nanu, Nanu’ and More Little-Known Secrets about the ‘Mork & Mindy’ Cast

Fantasy Island’ Cast: Fun Behind-the-Scenes Facts About the Beloved Drama

‘The Golden Girls’ Secrets: 12 Amazing Stories About Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia 

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