updated 06/13/2011 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/13/2011 AT 3:20 PM ET
Fran Drescher didn’t have to look far for inspiration for her new TV Land show Happily Divorced, which premieres June 15. The sitcom, about a woman whose husband turns out to be gay, is actually based on her own experience.
After her marriage of 21 years ended, Drescher’s husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, came out of the closet.
“He had already been living a gay life away from me after we divorced, and he said, ‘I don’t want you to be shocked. I’m dating men,’ ” the actress, 53, tells PEOPLE in its current issue, on stands now.
The revelation didn’t entirely surprise Drescher. “During our marriage he had told me he might be bisexual, but he wanted to stay married,” she says. “By the time he told me, I had survived uterine cancer. Nothing could shake me.”
Over the years, the two of them have rebuilt their relationship as friends. “It’s great that we had the ability and the wisdom to reinvent our relationship. All those years weren’t for nothing,” she says. “We’re very tight. We’re best friends.”