Rosie O’Donnell has taken her popularity and put it to good use. As a tireless crusader for children, she established the “Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation,” in 1997. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $60 million and awarded more than $27 million dollars in grants to over 1,400 child-related non-profit organizations to benefit low income families across the country. In 2005, Ms. O’Donnell established a fund to provide $3 million dollars to children and families displaced by Katrina which, among other projects built the first-ever childcare facility in a FEMA housing site, at Renaissance Village in Louisiana. In 2003, Ms. O’Donnell established “Rosie’s Broadway Kids,” a program that provides free in-school, after-school and summer instruction in musical theater to the public school children of New York. In 2008, Rosie’s Broadway Kids will open the doors to their new home, Maravel Arts Center, a performing arts school in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Ms. O’Donnell was last seen as moderator on the tenth season of ABC’s “The View.” In May of 2007, Time Magazine named Ms. O’Donnell one of the one hundred most influential people in the world for their “Time 100” cover story. In October of 2007 she will release her second book called “Celebrity Detox” with Grand Central Publishing. She will also reprise her role as Dawn Budge in FX’s acclaimed series “Nip/Tuck.”
In 2004 Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell launched R Family Vacations, and along with 1,500 people – gay, lesbian, straight, young and old – set sail on the first ever gay family cruise to the Caribbean. Sold out cruises continue on the high seas. In April of this year HBO aired the documentary “All Aboard Rosie’s Family Cruise,” directed by Emmy nominee Shari Cookson. The HBO documentary, which recently garnered three Emmy Award nominations, chronicles this historic undertaking, offering a glimpse of a society shaped by a truly diverse, inclusive network of families. The documentary premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in the spectrum category.
For six years, Rosie O’Donnell was America’s best friend for an hour each day as host and executive producer of the critically acclaimed, nationally syndicated talk/variety series “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” However, in May 2002, she decided to leave her successful show to concentrate her talents and energies elsewhere.
In her phenomenal first season on the air, Ms. O’Donnell won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host. She continued her success for five consecutive seasons by winning Daytime Emmy’s for both Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Talk Show. She also won a Primetime Emmy for "The 52nd Annual Tony Awards.” She has graced the cover of Newsweek magazine (dubbed the “Queen of Nice”); was cited as one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential People in America (1997). She was also named one of Ladies Home Journal’s Fascinating Women of the Year (1996), one of Barbara Walter’s 10 Most Fascinating People of 1996, and Entertainment Weekly named her 1996's Entertainer of the Year.
In April 1997, Warner Books published “Kids Are Punny,” a best-selling collection of her favorite jokes sent to the show by kids, with all proceeds going to the Foundation. Furthering her commitment to kids, she has hosted Nickelodeon’s “Kids Choice Awards” from 1997 – 2003.
When critics claimed that Broadway was on the decline and the networks threatened to stop broadcasting the Tony Awards, Ms. O’Donnell, an ardent fan of the theater, came to the rescue. Not only did she agree to host “The 51st Annual Tony Awards” (1997), but she also did a weeklong tribute to the Great White Way on her show leading up to the event. The Tony’s earned its highest ratings in 10 years, much credit given to Ms. O’Donnell.
As much at home in front of the camera as she is in front of the TV set, self-confessed television savant Ms. O’Donnell has made guest appearances on a number of television series including “Will and Grace,” “All My Children,” “Suddenly Susan,” “Spin City,” “Sesame Street,” “The Nanny,” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” She was first able to hone her hosting and executive producing skills back in 1988, on the top-rated cable show “Stand Up Spotlight” on VH1.
While she was increasing her popularity among the television audience, Ms. O’Donnell was also making a name for herself in movies. She made her motion picture debut in Penny Marshall’s 1992 smash film “A League of Their Own” starring opposite Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna. She recalls that she got the role because she was the only actress in Hollywood who could “throw a baseball from third to first base.”
She has since gone on to star on the big screen in: “Sleepless in Seattle”; “Another Stakeout”; “The Flintstones”; “Exit To Eden”; “Now and Then”; “Beautiful Girls”; “Harriet the Spy”; “Wide Awake”; and was the voice of “Turk” in Walt Disney’s full-length animated motion picture, “Tarzan.”
Following her heart to the stage, the multi-talented Ms. O’Donnell added Broadway to her repertoire in 1994, when she starred as Rizzo in Tommy Tune’s revival of “Grease.” In 2001, Rosie followed her heart back to Broadway to star as The Cat in the Hat in “Seussical.”
In April 2001, Ms. O’Donnell made her media debut as the Editorial Director of “Rosie,” the magazine she launched for G&J USA publishing; in partnership with her own KidRo productions. The magazine was a celebration of humanity with humor and heart. The December 2002 issue was the last. Keeping up with cultural trends, she launched her website, www.Rosie.com, where she publishes her photos, artwork, answers questions, and keeps a blog.
Ms. O’Donnell shared her gift for writing with the release of her book “Find Me,” in April 2002. In her premiere endeavor as an author she offered a brave and powerful account of an extraordinary experience that changed her life. “Find Me” reached number two on the New York Times Bestseller List.
In 2004, Ms. O’Donnell combined her love of Broadway and 80’s pop musical sensation, Boy George, and produced the musical, “Taboo,” based on his life. She previously appeared on Broadway in “Fiddler on the Roof” and starred in CBS’s Hallmark Hall of Fame production, “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” in which Ms. O’Donnell made her dramatic television debut. The telepic was directed by Angelica Huston and co-stars Andie MacDowell. She also appeared in a three arc episode on Showtime’s acclaimed hit, “Queer as Folk” and was a guest-star on HBO’s hit series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Ms. O’Donnell spent her childhood staring at posters of Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler, dreaming of “being them” -- her ideals of the all-around performer. With her multi-faceted talents, she is well on her way to living that dream.