Casey McShea, Staff Writer |
Last week, Rosie O’Donnell and longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Rooney confirmed their engagement. Rooney is currently a police officer and military veteran. The two went public as a couple in November 2017 and have been dating long-distance for the past year, with Rooney living in Boston and O’Donnell in New York City.
O’Donnell, 56, has admitted that the age gap between her and Rooney, who is 33, has made for some confusing and awkward moments. People have on occasion confused Rooney for O’Donnell’s 21-year-old daughter, Chelsea.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh my God, Chelsea looks so great,’” O’Donnell said. “I’m like, ‘That’s not Chelsea. That’s my soon-to-be spouse.’ It’s a little tricky. In the airport people say, ‘Rosie, can I have a picture of you and your daughter?’ She doesn’t seem to think it’s an issue at all. Nobody ever does, but I do sometimes.”
Rooney, however, does not seem to care about the age difference. “I keep telling her I’m too old for her,” O’Donnell said. “But she doesn’t seem to care. She’s like, ‘I was in the Army! I put my life on the line every day, you think I don’t know who I want to date?’ I’m like, ‘Alright I guess that’s true.’ She has a lot of good points.”
The engagement announcement was first revealed via Rooney’s Instagram, where she posted a picture of her emerald-cut diamond ring on her finger while holding a celebratory drink in her hand. The caption read “Y E S” with heart and ring emojis.
The couple met at a theater benefit in 2016, but did not start dating until a year later. The wedding, as told by O’Donnell, does not have a set date yet and will not be anytime soon. “I have a five-year-old with autism and we have a routine going, the two of us,” O’Donnell explained. “Elizabeth comes every five days and stays for a few days. It’s kind of a great, slow process where [Dakota] does say, ‘I have two brothers and two sisters and two mommies.’ So she’s kind of in the vibe of it, but you know when you have a kid with special needs like that, you try to go in a little bit of a different place. So we both agree that [holding off on wedding plans] would be best for everyone.”
O’Donnell was previously married twice. She was married to Kelli Carpenter between 2004 and 2007, and shares four children with her: son Parker, 23, daughter Chelsea, 21, son Blake, 18, daughter Vivienne, 15. O’Donnell married executive-search consultant Michelle Rounds in 2012, but they divorced in 2015; Rounds died of apparent suicide in September 2017 at age 46. They shared one five-year-old daughter, Dakota.
O’Donnell and Chelsea’s relationship has been historically rocky. Chelsea ran away from home in 2015 and is now expecting her first child with her boyfriend, Jacob Bourassa. O’Donnell said her relationship with her daughter, however, is much better these days.
“It’s a work in progress,” she confessed. “She’s a lovely girl who got dealt a bad hand in some ways and she’s working really hard on herself and finding forgiveness in herself. She’s a wonderful young woman and I love her very much.”