Barbara Bosson says she always wanted to act. But getting there has wasn't half the fun.
After graduation from high school in Florida, she was accepted into the drama department at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.But she couldn't come up with the tuition. So she went to New York in search of a job. There she held down jobs as a secretary, a theater assistant and - a Playboy bunny.
"I put up with a lot of leering men to be able to study acting," she says.
By 1966 she had saved enough money for the tuition and asked Earl Gister, the head of Carnegie's drama department, if she could audition for him.
"I suffered a complete crisis of confidence when I arrived in Pittsburgh," she recalls.
Still, her audition clicked and, at age 26, she became a college freshman.
Among her classmates were Steven Bochco, now her husband; and two other members of the "Hill Street Blues" gang, Bruce Weitz and Charles Haid.
Much of her career, once established, has developed within that tight group of television personalities.
Recently, they were together again in Tampa Bay, Fla. Bochco, her husband and producer of "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "Hooperman," came to play in Weitz's annual golf tournament. But it doesn't end there.
Wearing a white T-shirt, knee-length black Lycra pants and high-top sneaker's, non-golfer Bosson was here to talk about her new fall television series "Cop Rock." It will, naturally enough, be produced by Haid.
And, she adds, "Cop Rock" is "Hill Street Blues" set to music.
Created by Bochco, the show is part opera, part rock concert, part police drama. It is scheduled for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. starting on Wednesday on ABC. Bosson plays Louise Plank, a mayor.
Bosson, 50, who received five Emmy nominations for her role as Fay, ex-wife of police Capt. Frank Furillo, on "Hill Street Blues," was born in the coal mining town of Charleroi, Pa., 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Her father moved the family to St. Petersburg in the 1950s, and Bosson attended Baco Ciega High School. She graduated in 1957. "Cop Rock" focuses on a group of urban police officers who deal with street crime. When the producer thinks the time is right, the leads break into song and maybe a dance production number.
"It is a different show," Bosson says. "We screened it for some of the ABC brass and there were some skeptics, but the network is being fabulous and so supportive."
The show's theme song is written by singer/composer Randy Newman.
In the season opener of "Cop Rock," the city is stunned when a police officer is gunned down by an accused crack dealer who was released because of jail overcrowding.
While the police department is busy tracking down the killer, Bosson, playing Mayor Plank, is getting funds together to build a new jail.
Getting into makeup for the role of Plank - a blimp of a woman Bosson describes as "a cross between Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher" - is in itself a three-hour production, Bosson says. "There's a lot of latex and padding."
Bosson says the bribe-prone mayor is then approached by the political machine to run for governor.
It takes four shows "and every plastic surgery in the world," she says, for Bosson "to lose the weight" and become herself again.
For the three weeks this summer she was the lead in a regional production of "Gypsy" in Greenville, N.C. "This is really the first singing and dancing I have done since my high school days at Boca Ciega," she says.
Bosson and Bochco were married in 1969. They have two children, 20-year-old Melissa, who is working for her father, and Jesse John, 15..