Diana Muldaur & Richard Dysart in L.A. Law.
L.A. Law is lauded as the greatest show of its generation, and has often been called "the first intelligent TV series". With its 15 Emmy Awards and 74 more nominations (plus several Golden Globes and People's Choice awards/nominations) it stands out as one of the most acclaimed TV shows in history. It was created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, and reached its height with David E. Kelley as head writer and executive producer in season four and five.

The original actors were Richard Dysart, Alan Rachins, Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen, Jimmy Smits, Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, Michele Greene and Susan Ruttan. In season two, Blair Underwood and Larry Drake were added to the cast.

The first thing David E. Kelley did, after being promoted, was to create a new character that would bring conflict to the law firm. The conflict came in form of a powerhouse named Rosalind Shays. Kelley contacted Diana Muldaur, who made a couple of suggestions about how to make Rosalind a new kind of female executive with real power. Rosalind Shays was Kelley's first creation (rumor has it that he has a large picture of Rosalind on his home wall). He created four other well known L.A. Law characters during his two seasons as head writer/executive producer. These characters were played by Amanda Donohoe, John Spencer, Cecil Hoffman and Sheila Kelley.

When Ros first entered the law firm, she was driven by money and power. She had no problem with telling Leland McKenzie (Richard Dysart) to put his hearing aid on, or telling Douglas Brackman (Alan Rachins) that his braces made him look like a kid. She constantly argued with Ann Kelsey (Jill Eikenberry) and also had a couple of run-ins with Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits). But she never did anything really evil. Yet many viewers hated her. Rosalind Shays was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it - and people couldn't stand it!

Rosalind's first season was action packed. When senior partner Leland McKenzie decided to retire, Rosalind became the new head of the firm. Leland, however, wanted the job back after a couple of months. Roz declared war on him, but had to leave the firm at the end of season four. Rosalind's departure from the firm made the TV news in USA (!) as if she was a real person. Diana Muldaur did interview after interview, since everybody wanted to know what was going to happen to Roz next. That's how huge this character was/is.

At the beginning of season five, good old Roz was back to sue her old partners for sex discrimination. She won the "Rosalind Shays trial" and after that she fell in love - with no other than her old competitor Leland McKenzie. The famous"christmas-scene", where Roz and Leland were revealed in bed together, was ranked as the 38th greatest moment in television history in an issue of EGG Magazine. Some fans loved it, some were horrified. The other L.A. Law characters were also horrified, and did their very best to stop the romance. But the truth is, that Rosalind was deeply in love (she even helped Leland in a business matter, despite the fact that it made her look really bad). She also proposed to him, but he turned her down saying that he didn't love her. Rosalind still decided to stay with him. Leland later admitted, in a conversation with Ann Kelsey, that he did love Roz.

At the end of the 5th season, Rosalind Shays fell down an elevator shaft and died. David E. Kelley was leaving to create new shows and didn't want to leave Roz in the hands of other writers. Some fans applauded when Roz fell down the shaft, others were heartbroken. Once again, the Rosalind Shays storyline made the news in USA. The "elevator episode" was ranked #81 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time.

Rosalind Shays has been called "the greatest female character in history". She certainly developed more than most TV characters do. She also represented a new kind of female executive. The TV world became a better place the day that David E. Kelley and Diana Muldaur created Roz.