Rosie O'Donnell, comedian and television talk show host, was born the third of five children to Edward and Roseann O'Donnell. She was born and raised in Commack, New York on Long Island. Her mother died of cancer when she was 10 years old, which she describes as the defining event of her life. Her mother's death was a mystery to her as she was not told what her mother died of until she was 16. Her father was emotionally ill-equipped to raise his children, according to O'Donnell, and she dealt with his detachment by immersing herself in television shows. She attended both Dickinson College and Boston University, but she dropped out to pursue her career in comedy. She had first taken the stage at 16, pirating a show she had seen Jerry Seinfield perform. She toured comedy clubs from 1979 to 1984 before becoming a five-time comedy champion on the television show 'Star Search.' She was one of very few women doing stand-up comedy at the time. She drew enough attention as a comedian that she was asked to become host and executive producer of 'Stand-Up Spotlight' on VH-1. O'Donnell has appeared in several films such as 'A League of Their Own', 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'Beautiful Girls'. She has typically been cast in supporting roles as a best friend or confidante to the lead. After adopting her first son in 1995, she traded in Hollywood for her own television talk-variety show, 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show,' so that she would be home for her son. She won an Emmy for best talk show host in the show's first season and has won several since. She has adopted two more children, and unlike many show business mothers, she raises them without the help of nannies.