Played by Sharon Lawrence: An elegant, beautiful assistant District Attorney and a balding, overweight, slovenly cop getting married? It wasn't an obvious match, to be sure, but Sylvia saw the decent, caring human being underneath Andy Sipowicz's gruff exterior and fell in love with him. She was very supportive of his attempts to stay sober, which probably has something to do with the fact that half her family members appear to be alcoholics. She was very confident on the job, and was known to wield an acid tongue when cops' procedural errors blow her cases. Sylvia was raped back in law school, which made her (and Andy, once he found out) especially sensitive about rape cases. She took some time off from work to care for her newborn son Theo, but had returned to the job when she was killed in a courthouse shooting incident.
She got additional work in touring musical shows and cabarets, before making it to Broadway in 1990 as Tzeitel, one of Tevye's daughters in the revival of "Fiddler on the Roof." She got some memorable TV guest spots, including the next-to-last episode of "Cheers" (she played a member of Sam's sex addicts support group), as well as an appearance on Steven Bochco's "Civil Wars."
When Bochco was trying to cast the small part of a hostile male district attorney in the pilot for "NYPD Blue," he came up with an inspiration, and called in Lawrence to read for the role (NOTE: the immortal "Ipsa this, you pissy little bitch!" line was originally "Ipsa this, you pissy little bastard!"). She got the part, and was brought back later after Bochco and David Milch brainstormed the idea of having fat, surly Det. Sipowicz get involved with beautiful ADA Costas. Lawrence's chemistry with Dennis Franz was so great that the writers couldn't help but use her more and more, usually at the expense of Sherry Stringfield's screen time as Laura Kelly (you could say that Lawrence is responsible for Stringfield's departure).
Never satisfied by the size of her role -- and very vocal about it, to both producers and reporters -- Sharon left after the fourth season to star in a sitcom on NBC. She had agreed to return to "Blue" whenever needed as a condition of getting out of her contract, but she was actually only available once during the time when "Fired Up" was on the air. When NBC canceled it, Sharon returned to "Blue" on a semi-regular basis from the middle of season five through the middle of season six. But she was still displeased about the quantity and quality of her storylines, and decided she'd had enough, making a point to show up at a reception ABC was holding for reporters to get the word out that she wouldn't return without significantly better material. Eventually, Sharon and the producers reached enough of an accord to bring her back for a two-episode stint at the end of the sixth season so Sylvia could be written out for good. Sharon has since landed supporting roles on "Ladies Man," a CBS sitcom, and "Wolf Lake," a drama.