A Brief History of Rosie O’Donnell’s Celebrity Beefs

The Queen of Nice can get downright nasty
A Brief History of Rosie O’Donnell’s Celebrity Beefs

“It seems like you’re often at odds,” The Hollywood Reporter remarked to Rosie O’Donnell this week

Gee, you think? The Reporter’s O’Donnell profile isn’t so much a career retrospective as a referendum on her multiple feuds with celebrities over the decades. For someone known as “The Queen of Nice,” she sure could mix it up when someone rubbed her the wrong way. Here’s a brief history of her battles with the rich and famous…

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Ellen DeGeneres

O’Donnell says DeGeneres “came out first on my show, remember?” Just a few weeks before DeGeneres appeared on the “Yep, I’m Gay” cover of Time, Rosie and Ellen joked around on O’Donnell’s talk show. O’Donnell, not wanting DeGeneres to feel alone as an outed celebrity, sprinkled plenty of “Maybe I’m Lebanese” code into their conversation to let America know they were on the same team.

So it was especially hurtful when Larry King interviewed DeGeneres and asked about O’Donnell’s career going down the tubes once she came out. DeGeneres’ response, per O’Donnell: “I don’t know Rosie. We’re not friends.” 

What the what? “It would never occur to me to say ‘I don’t know her’ about somebody whose babies I held when they were born,” says O’Donnell. The moment impacted her so profoundly that she had “I don’t know her, we’re not friends” T-shirts created for her staff. Recently, DeGeneres sent an apology after hearing O’Donnell recount the story on Andy Cohen’s show, texting, “I’m really sorry and I don’t remember that.” 

Forgive and forget? “I knew her for so many years,” O’Donnell says. “It just felt like I don’t trust this person to be in my world.”

Barbara Walters (and Donald Trump)

O’Donnell’s feud with Donald Trump is legendary (“It was not just an attack on me but on all women he doesn’t deem worthy,” she says), and the fallout was nearly as bad. Trump was behind the bad blood between O’Donnell and The View co-host Barbara Walters.

“Barbara and I got in a huge fight. … (Trump) published an open letter to me in the Post. In it, he wrote that she’d called him ‘to apologize for my behavior.’ I was like, ‘Whoa.’ We got into an argument in the makeup room that day.” The fight got heated, agitating a crew who never saw anyone challenge Walters. O’Donnell regrets saying “something about her daughter, which I shouldn’t have said. She was hurt.” In this case, Rosie says she apologized many times and they got past it before Walters died.

Tom Selleck

After Columbine, O’Donnell was furious with the NRA, and by extension, Tom Selleck, who appeared in pro-gun ads for the organization. When he was scheduled for a promotional appearance on her talk show, she “said to the producers, ‘Tell his publicist the first segment’s going to be about the movie, but the second one’s going to be about the NRA.’” 

“I don’t think his people were prepared for what happens when I get angry,” she says of the infamous show. “And then he got very angry. I remember walking off the set that day and going to the dressing room and there were a bunch of people in there and I thought, ‘That was okay, right?’”

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