05/06/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
SHE COULD GIVE LESSONS IN TAKING A COMPLIMENT. WHEN FANS TELL GAIL O'GRADY she's beautiful, "I'm always flattered," she says. "I never go, 'Oh, why can't they take me seriously?' " And yet they do that too. O'Grady, 32, propelled a three-episode stint as shapely Donna Abandando on ABC's cop drama NYPD Blue into three seasons and two Emmy nominations. The long hours haven't put a wrinkle on her face. "Gail's at her most attractive when she arrives in the morning and leaves at night," says costar Dennis Franz. "And at social events she transforms herself into this glamorous '50s-style Hollywood starlet." Like an aerobicized Marilyn Monroe, O'Grady has curves in all the right places, and her eyes reflect her spirit. She claims that they change from blue to green depending on how she feels. "You've heard of mood rings?" she asks. "I have mood eyes." When she's in the mood for stopping traffic, she ought to alert the cops. "Somebody once dropped a lunch tray because of me," she says. "But that was a while ago." O'Grady, who last year married her manager Steven Fenton, 25, will leave the NYPD force after this season to try comedy in a Fox pilot. A fortuitous switch, she says, because "I look my best when I'm laughing."