Inside Rosie O'Donnell's tragic real life story

Inside Rosie O'Donnell's tragic real life story

Date: 20 September 2017 17:18

Her mom died of cancer when she was 10

Tragedy struck O'Donnell early in life. At age 10, she lost her mother, Roseann O'Donnell, to breast cancer, leaving Rosie and her four siblings in the care of their father, Edward Joseph O'Donnell. Rosie described him as a deeply troubled man.

"He had his own issues and demons, he had a very tough childhood, he had an alcoholic, abusive father and never really got the help that I think every person needs when they have lived through that as a child," she told Piers Morgan Tonight in 2012. "I think that he had a lot of problems to deal with in his own life, never mind being faced with raising these five small children."

It took her years to forgive her father

Rosie struggled to maintain a relationship with her father in the decades after her mother's death. She said some of his actions remain "unforgivable," yet she has forced herself to come to terms with her past. "As a child, the statute of limitations, I think, has to wear off," she told Piers Morgan Tonight in 2012. "You get to be 50 years old [and] you can't still be angry at what your father did in 1970. You have to work it out yourself and then find a place for it in your own life and not rehash it forever." She added, "No matter what, at the end of the day, every child loves their dad."

Edward died of cancer in August 2015. He was 81.

Her ex-wife died of an apparent suicide

In September 2017, TMZ reported that Rosie's ex-wife, Michelle Rounds, had died of an apparent suicide. 

"I am saddened to hear about this terrible tragedy," Rosie said in a statement. "Mental illness is a very serious issue affecting many families. My thoughts and prayers go out to Michelle's family, her wife and their child."

Rosie's relationship with Rounds had been fraught for many years. She filed for divorce from Rounds in February 2015, sparking a nasty custody battle over their adopted daughter, Dakota, that was not settled until March 2016. 

During the custody battle, in September 2015, Rounds reportedly attempted to take her own life by overdosing on pills. Paramedics were able to reach her in time with the help of Rosie, who reportedly kept Rounds on the phone while EMT services were en route, according to TMZ.

She's estranged from her daughter

Rosie has struggled to maintain a relationship with her adopted daughter, Chelsea.

Drama erupted in August 2015 when Rosie revealed on Twitter that Chelsea had been missing for days. Hours later, Chelsea was found safe in New York, though it was later reported that she had been hanging out with a heroin dealer she had met on Tinder.

Although mother and daughter briefly reconciled in 2016, their relationship has seemingly been filled with more lows than highs in recent years. In multiple interviews since 2015, Chelsea has accused her mom of everything from smoking weed to threatening to hit her with a wine bottle. Chelsea told the Daily Mail that she secretly married boyfriend Nick Alliegro in 2015 after discovering she was pregnant. When the couple suffered a miscarriage, Alliegro claimed Rosie "never seemed to care or even asked any questions, like it didn't matter to her."

Rosie remains adamant that Chelsea is "mentally ill" and at one point actually said she sympathized with notorious Hollywood mom Joan Crawford.

In September 2017, a 20-year-old Chelsea told the Daily Mail that she was pregnant again. "It's very exciting and I'm looking forward to it. But Rosie will not be in my child's life—and no, I do not feel sad about that to be honest," she said.

She unknowingly had a heart attack

On Aug. 20, 2012, Rosie revealed on her blog that she had suffered from a heart attack the week prior but didn't realize it until she went to the doctor the next day.

The drama, she wrote, began after she had helped an "enormous woman" get out of her car. "A few hours later my body hurt," she wrote. "I had an ache in my chest. Both my arms were sore. Everything felt bruised… I became nauseous. My skin was clammy. I was very very hot. I threw up."

Rosie said she took an aspirin instead of calling 911. "The next day, I went to a cardiologist. The [doctor] did an EKG and sent me to the hospital where a stent was put in," she wrote. "My LAD was 99% blocked. They call this type of heart attack the widow maker. I am lucky to be here."

Speaking to People magazine months later, Rosie said her heart attack made her reflect on her mother's death at a young age. "I thought about what my mother must have felt, because she knew she was dying and leaving five children under 12…" she said. "I was 10 when my mother died and I hardly remember her. I remember thinking, 'This is too soon to be done.'"

She added that her health scare also forced her to finally start leading a healthier lifestyle: "It took a heart attack for me to learn to take care of myself."

She has battled depression

Rosie has been open about her battle with depression for many years. "I am one of the haunted," she wrote in her magazine, Rosie, in 2001 (via People).

In 2007, she revealed on The View (via The Associated Press) that she began taking medication to combat her depression following the tragic attack on Columbine High School in 1999. "I couldn't stop crying," she said. "I stayed in my room. The lights were off. I couldn't get out of bed, and that's when I started taking medication." Rosie has also treated her depression with yoga and inversion therapy, but she credited the anti-depressants with saving her life.

Rosie has continued to allude to her struggles with mental illness in recent years. "I know about mental illness—I have my own," she said (via People) while discussing the relationship with her estranged daughter, Chelsea, in 2015. She also wrote on her blog in October 2016 that the presidential campaign had done a number on her state of mind.


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