When Rosie O’Donnell stepped onstage for her last day as co-host of The View on Feb. 12, the crowd cheered her name over and over.
“You see now, if that was every day, I probably would’ve stayed,” she joked. But beneath her cheerful exterior, Rosie’s hurting.
Only a week earlier, the 52-year-old comic announced she was leaving ABC’s daytime talk show because she and her wife of nearly three years, Michelle Rounds, separated in November — and it’s taking a toll on her health after a near-fatal heart attack two years ago.
Rosie with her 'The View' co-hosts.
“My doctor is concerned that [doing the show] is too much,” Rosie tells 'Closer.' “We have five kids — four of them teenagers — and Michelle and I are going through some hard stuff. I can’t fix those things right away, but I can fix this.”
“I’ve got a lot of stress,” Rosie added on her 'The View' farewell show. “I’ve got some home stuff going on, some kid stuff going on. Gotta turn down the stress in some area.”
But there’s more to it than that. Insiders reveal that other factors are driving Rosie’s decision to leave — particularly tensions with Whoopi Goldberg, and the program’s flagging ratings.
Rosie and Michelle in October 2014.
In September, Rosie — who moderated the show for one season in 2007 — returned amid much fanfare, joining current moderator Whoopi and newbies Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.
Notes a source, “Michelle tried to talk her out of it.” Perhaps she should have listened. “Rosie tried to be respectful of Whoopi’s place as leader, but she’s used to having things her way,” says an insider.
To read the full story on Rosie, pick up the new issue of 'Closer Weekly,' on newsstands now!