Rosie O’Donnell Calls Her Beloved Former Talk Show ‘a Homing Device’ for ‘Misfit Toys’

Rosie O’Donnell has been an actor, standup comedian, and talk show host. She was formerly one of the hosts of The View. Before that, she had her own talk show that was very popular. O’Donnell’s show had its share of celebrity guests to promote their movies, but it represented something much deeper than just another talk show to one part of the population. It was O’Donnell’s “homing device” for “misfit toys” that made a whole lot of people feel like they had a safe space. 

Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show was revolutionary in its own way

Rosie O'Donnell wearing a light beige colored jacket with a white undershirt against a blue and background with white writing on it.
Rosie O’Donnell | Getty Images

According to IMDb, O’Donnell’s show ran from 1996-2002. Every talk show thrives or fails based on the personality of its host, and this one was no different. The Tonight Show was popular for years because of Johnny Carson’s effusive charm, while The Chevy Chase Show crashed and burned due to an insecure host not right for the stage. O’Donnell’s show succeeded because it embraced her hilarious, quirky personality. 

It also offered a safe atmosphere for those who felt like they didn’t fit in, something O’Donnell was aware of and attempted to cultivate. 

Rosie O’Donnell saw her own show as a ‘homing device’ for ‘misfit toys’

O’Donnell recently appeared on the Everything Iconic podcast with host Danny Pellegrino. Pellegrino spoke about how much her show meant to him during his formative years. Pellegrino stated, “I grew up in Ohio and your show so represented a world that seemed so far away from me at the time. I don’t know. I’m getting emotional…” 

“That’s OK, honey,” she said, comforting the host. “It was a safe place for so many kids who didn’t feel like they had a place. I love children, and so whenever I had a kid I was overly effusive and interested, truly interested, in their perspective and their life.”

She added that her show offered comfort for children who felt like outcasts, stating, “And I think a lot of kids who maybe felt they didn’t fit in or knew they were gay before they had a word for it  – they would watch my show and sense something and not necessarily know but kinda know. It was like a homing device for all of the land of misfit toys. And I was happy to be the grandmother of that.” 

How an ‘amazing environment for queer people’ was created

Pellegrino agreed with O’Donnell’s assessment, calling her show an “amazing environment for queer people.” O’Donnell appreciated the compliment and chalked this up to her supportive staff,  saying, “Yeah, it really was. I made it a point to sort of try to staff it with my friends and with gay perspective. And Broadway was a main focus, and that’s where all the gays go. So, we had a wonderful cast and crew, and we still get together on the anniversaries.”

Pellegrino pressed O’Donnell on the idea of starting her own podcast, but she bristled at the idea. “Everyone I know has a podcast,” she lamented, “Like, my nanny has a podcast, you know? Everybody is doing it, but we can’t seem to put it together. I’m not really sure why. I don’t think I would do another show now because truthfully I’m not really well-versed in who’s who anymore.”

O’Donnell added that when she was younger, she “knew everyone in People Magazine,” but that isn’t the case anymore. O’Donnell states, “Now, when I’m on a plane and I grab a People magazine, I have no idea. They’re announcing the birth of the third child of Camila Cabello.” 

She may not have another project in the works, but O’Donnell’s work has already impacted so many within the LGBTQIA+ community, and for that, she should be commended. 

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