Roseanne Cherrie Barr (born November 3, 1952) is an American actress, comedian, writer, and television producer. She was also the 2012 presidential nominee of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party. Barr began her career in stand-up comedy at clubs before gaining fame for her role in the hit television sitcom Roseanne. The show ran for nine seasons, from 1988 to 1997. She won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the show. It was announced in 2017 that an eight episode revival of the show will air in 2018. Barr had crafted a "fierce working-class domestic goddess" persona in the eight years preceding her sitcom and wanted to do a realistic show about a strong mother who was not a victim of patriarchal consumerism.
The granddaughter of immigrants from Europe and Russia, Barr was the oldest of four children in a working-class Jewish Salt Lake City family; she was also active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 1974, she married Bill Pentland, with whom she had three children, before divorcing in 1990 and marrying comedian Tom Arnold for four years. Controversy arose when she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" off-key at a 1990 nationally aired baseball game, followed by grabbing her crotch and spitting.
After her sitcom ended, she launched her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, which aired from 1998 to 2000. In 2005, she returned to stand-up comedy with a world tour. In 2011, she starred in an unscripted TV show, Roseanne's Nuts, that lasted from July to September of that year, about her life on a Hawaiian farm.
In early 2012, Barr announced her candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Green Party. Barr lost the nomination to Jill Stein. She then sought the presidential nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party, which she won on August 4, 2012. Barr received 61,971 votes in the general election, placing sixth overall.
Barr was born in Salt Lake City, to a working-class Jewish family. She is the oldest of four children born to Helen (née Davis), a bookkeeper and cashier, and Jerome Hershel "Jerry" Barr, who worked as a salesman. Her father's family were Jewish immigrants from Russia, and her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary and Lithuania, respectively. Her paternal grandfather changed his surname from "Borisofsky" to "Barr" upon entering the United States.
Her Jewish upbringing was influenced by her devoutly Orthodox Jewish maternal grandmother. Barr's parents kept their Jewish heritage secret from their neighbors and were partially involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Barr has stated, "Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons". When Barr was three years old, she got Bell's palsy on the left side of her face. Barr said, "[so] my mother called in a rabbi to pray for me, but nothing happened. Then my mother got a Mormon preacher, he prayed, and I was miraculously cured". Years later Barr learned that Bell's palsy was usually temporary and that the Mormon preacher came "exactly at the right time". At six years old, Barr discovered her first public stage by lecturing at LDS churches around Utah and even was elected president of a Mormon youth group.
At 16, Barr was hit by a car that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her behavior changed so radically that she was institutionalized for eight months at Utah State Hospital. While institutionalized she had a baby, which she gave up for adoption.
In 1970, when Barr was 18 years old, she moved out by informing her parents she was going to visit a friend in Colorado for two weeks, but never returned.
Stand-up comedian: 1980–1986
While in Colorado, Barr did stand-up gigs in clubs in Denver and other Colorado towns. She later tried out at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and went on to appear on The Tonight Show in 1985. In 1986, she performed on Late Night with David Letterman and the following year had her own HBO special called The Roseanne Barr Show, which earned her an American Comedy Award for the funniest female performer in a television special. Barr was offered the role of Peg Bundy in Married... with Children but turned it down. In her routine she popularized the phrase, "domestic goddess," to refer to a homemaker or housewife. The success of her act led to her own series on ABC, called Roseanne.
Roseanne sitcom, film, books, and talk show: 1987–2004
In 1987, The Cosby Show executive producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner wanted to bring a "no-perks family comedy" to television. They hired Cosby writer Matt Williams to write a script about factory workers and signed Barr to play Roseanne Conner. The show premiered on October 18, 1988 and was watched by 21.4 million households, making it the highest-rated debut of that season.
Barr became outraged when she watched the first episode of Roseanne and noticed that in the credits, Williams was listed as creator. She told Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly, "We built the show around my actual life and my kids. The 'domestic goddess', the whole thing". In the same interview, Werner said, "I don't think Roseanne, to this day, understands that this is something legislated by the Writers Guild, and it's part of what every show has to deal with. They're the final arbiters." During the first season, Barr sought more creative control over the show, opposing Williams' authority. Barr refused to say certain lines and eventually walked off set. She threatened to quit the show if Williams did not leave. ABC let Williams go after the thirteenth episode.
Roseanne ran for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997. Barr won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Kids Choice Award, and three American Comedy Awards for her part in the show. For the final two seasons, Barr earned $40 million, making her the second-highest-paid woman in show business at the time, after Oprah Winfrey.
Barbara Ehrenreich called Barr a working-class spokesperson representing "the hopeless underclass of the female sex: polyester-clad, overweight occupants of the slow track; fast-food waitresses, factory workers, housewives, members of the invisible pink-collar army; the despised, the jilted, the underpaid," but a master of "the kind of class-militant populism that the Democrats, most of them anyway, never seem to get right." Barr refuses to use the term "blue collar" because it masks the issue of class.
During Roseanne's final season, Barr was in negotiations between Carsey-Werner Productions and ABC executives to continue playing Roseanne Conner in a spin-off. However, after failed discussions with ABC, and later CBS and Fox, Carsey-Werner and Barr agreed not to go on with the negotiations.
Barr gave Amy Sherman-Palladino and Joss Whedon their first writing jobs on Roseanne. She released her autobiography in 1989, titled Roseanne—My Life As a Woman. That same year, she made her film debut in She-Devil, playing Ruth. Film critic Roger Ebert gave her a positive review saying, "Barr could have made an easy, predictable and dumb comedy at any point in the last couple of years. Instead, she took her chances with an ambitious project – a real movie. It pays off, in that Barr demonstrates that there is a core of reality inside her TV persona, a core of identifiable human feelings like jealousy and pride, and they provide a sound foundation for her comic acting".
In 1991, she voiced the baby, Julie, in Look Who's Talking Too. She was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. She appeared three times on Saturday Night Live from 1991 to 1994, co-hosting with then-husband Tom Arnold in 1992. In 1994, she released a second book, My Lives. That same year, Barr became the first female comedian to host the MTV Video Music Awards on her own. She remained the only to have done so until comedian Chelsea Handler hosted in 2010. In 1997, she made guest appearances on 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Nanny.
In 1998, she portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West in a production of The Wizard of Oz at Madison Square Garden. That same year, Barr hosted her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, which ran for two years before it was canceled in 2000. In the summer of 2003, she took on the dual role of hosting a cooking show called Domestic Goddess and starring in a reality show called The Real Roseanne Show about hosting a cooking show. Although 13 episodes were in production, a hysterectomy brought a premature end to both projects. In 2004, she voiced Maggie, one of the main characters in the animated film Home on the Range.
Return to stand-up, television guest appearances, and radio: 2005–2010
In 2005, she returned to stand-up comedy with a world tour. In February 2006, Barr performed her first-ever live dates in Europe as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival in Leicester, England. The shows took place at De Montfort Hall. She released her first children's DVD, Rockin' with Roseanne: Calling All Kids, that month. Roseanne's return to the stage culminated in an HBO Comedy Special Roseanne Barr: Blonde N Bitchin', which aired November 4, 2006, on HBO. Two nights earlier, Roseanne had returned to primetime network TV with a guest spot on NBC's My Name Is Earl, playing a crazy trailer park manager. In April 2007, Barr hosted season three of The Search for the Funniest Mom in America on Nick at Nite.
In March 2008, she headlined an act at the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. From 2009 to 2010, she hosted a politically themed radio show on KPFK. Since 2008, she and partner Johnny Argent have hosted a weekly radio show on Sundays, on KCAA in the Los Angeles area, called "The Roseanne and Johnny Show". On March 23, 2009 it was announced that Barr would be returning to primetime with a new sitcom, wherein she would once again play the matriarch. Jim Vallely of Arrested Development had been tapped to pen the series. She later stated on her website that the project had been canceled.
On April 15, 2009, Barr made an appearance on Bravo's 2nd Annual A-List Awards in the opening scenes. She played Kathy Griffin's fairy godmother, granting her wish to be on the A-List for one night only. Barr headlined the inaugural Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival in February 2010, a project of the Traverse City Film Festival, founded by filmmaker Michael Moore. Moore developed the comedy fest with comedian Jeff Garlin. In 2010, Barr appeared in Jordan Brady's documentary about stand-up comedy, I Am Comic.
Reality television, third book, sitcom pilot, politics, Comedy Central Roast, Roseanne revival: 2011–present
Barr released her third book, Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm, in January 2011. She appeared in 2011 on a Super Bowl XLV commercial for Snickers along with comedian Richard Lewis. It was the most popular ad, based on the number of TiVo users rewinding and watching it over. Roseanne's Nuts, a reality show featuring Barr, boyfriend Johnny Argent, and son Jake as they run a macadamia nut and livestock farm in Big Island, Hawaii was broadcast by Lifetime Television in July 2011, and cancelled in September of that year.
In August 2011, it was reported that Barr was working on a new sitcom with 20th Century Fox Television tentatively titled Downwardly Mobile. Steven Greener, who also executive produced her reality show Roseanne's Nuts, will also executive produce the sitcom. Eric Gilliland is attached as co-creator, writer and executive producer; Gilliland was also a writer on Barr's previous sitcom Roseanne. The show will be set in a mobile home community and use a multiple-camera setup. In October 2011, NBC picked up the show. A pilot was filmed but initially ended up being shelved by the network. Barr blames her "Progressive politics" as being the sole reason behind the pilot's rejection. Barr states that she was notified that the show would not be picked up due to its being labeled "too polarizing" by network executives. In an interview with Politicker, Barr revealed that the show had been axed only to announce three hours later that she had just received a phone call saying that NBC had not given up on the project completely. The show could end up as an NBC midseason replacement. Barr hopes she's given the opportunity to retool the show.
On November 28, 2014, Barr's series, Momsters: When Moms Go Bad debuted on the Investigation Discovery cable network, a network that she says she's a 'little obsessed with.' Barr hosts the show as herself.
On April 28, 2017 it was reported that Barr along with most of the original cast will return for an eight episode revival of Roseanne. Barr also will produce the series which is being shopped around to various networks including Netflix. On May 16, 2017 it was confirmed that the eight episodes would air mid-season in 2018 on ABC.
On July 25, 1990, Barr performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds at Jack Murphy Stadium. As she later claimed, she was initially having trouble hearing herself over the public-address system, so she was singing as loudly as possible, and her rendition of the song sounded "screechy". Following her rendition, she mimicked the often-seen actions of players by spitting and grabbing her crotch as if adjusting a protective cup. Barr claimed she had been encouraged by baseball officials to "bring humor to the song". The song and the closing routine received heavy media attention and offended many, including President George H. W. Bush, who called her rendition "disgraceful." Barr would revisit this incident during her Comedy Central Roast in 2012, wherein she once again belted out the last few bars of the national anthem, without screeching.
In 2014, the parents of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator who is known for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin but was later acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter, filed a lawsuit against Barr for tweeting their home address and phone number on March 29, 2012. Barr allegedly tweeted "At first I thought it was good to let ppl know that no one can hide anymore ... If Zimmerman isn't arrested I'll rt his address again- maybe go 2 his house myself." Zimmerman's parents allege that Barr sought to "cause a lynch mob to descend" on their home. The Seminole County Circuit Court complaint sought more than $15,000 for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. In August 2015, summary judgment was granted in favor of Barr.
Tweet about Ireland
In March 2017, she accused Ireland of being anti-semitic and she also demanded "Give Ireland back to the British too."
2012 presidential campaign
On August 5, 2011, Barr appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and announced her candidacy for president in the 2012 presidential election, running on the "Green Tea Party" ticket. Her candidacy called attention to economics, personal health and meditation. She also stated that she would run for Prime Minister of Israel. In an interview with The Jewish Daily Forward she invoked tikkun olam in her support of bringing women into politics and religion. On September 19, 2011, she appeared at the Occupy Wall Street protests and spoke in support of the protestors. She further stated that any "guilty" Wall Street bankers should be forced to give up any income over $100 million, be sent to re-education camps, or be executed by beheading if they resisted. Barr filed with the Federal Election Commission as a Green Party presidential candidate in January 2012. She formally announced her candidacy for the party's 2012 presidential nomination on February 2, 2012.
On July 14, 2012, Barr came in second, losing the nomination to Jill Stein. Stein chose Cheri Honkala as her running-mate despite suggestions that she could choose Barr. Barr was given a prime speaking role at the Green Party National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, but decided to instead send a surrogate, (Farheen Hakeem), to speak on her behalf. Barr's surrogate reportedly chided the party for not respecting Barr's candidacy. A shouting match in a hallway reportedly ensued. Barr repeatedly criticized Jill Stein after losing the Green Party nomination, and caused controversy by using alleged transphobic words in statements about Stein on Twitter.
Shortly after losing the Green Party nomination, Barr announced that she would run on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket with activist Cindy Sheehan as her running mate. On August 4, 2012, Barr won the presidential nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party. Barr's running mate, Cindy Sheehan, immediately had disagreements with Barr, from Barr's views on policy, to Barr's desire to only campaign online, and Barr's treatment of Green Party nominee Jill Stein, leading Sheehan to request her name taken off the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. Sheehan was told it was too late to have her name removed, so she instead announced that she was simply leaving the campaign.
Barr appeared on the ballot in Colorado, Florida, and California. As she was not on the ballot in her home state of Hawaii, which did not allow write-in votes, she voted for President Obama. She received 67,326 votes nationwide, placing sixth overall with 0.05% of the popular vote; Stein, who appeared on the ballot of 36 states and the District of Columbia, placed far ahead of her in fourth place with 0.36% of the popular vote and 469,627 votes. Barr was followed by a film crew throughout her entire campaign, with documentarian Eric Weinrib directing, leading to questions about the sincerity of her campaign. Over 300 hours were filmed and were released as a film called Roseanne for President!. Despite questions of her sincerity regarding her campaign, Barr and her family have insisted her desire to run for president was "very real."
- Green Party Black Caucus
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
- Cynthia McKinney, 2008 Green Party nominee
Support for Donald Trump
Despite her generally leftist views, Barr voiced her support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a June 2016 The Hollywood Reporter interview. "I think we would be so lucky if Trump won. Because then it wouldn't be Hillary." A July CNN story reported that she did not endorse Trump as she only supports herself for president -- "I will be writing myself in in every election from now until I win." However in a tweet to The Jerusalem Post, Barr revealed she voted for Trump.
In 1970, when she was 17, Barr had a child whom she placed for adoption; they were later reunited. On February 4, 1974, Barr married Bill Pentland, a motel clerk she met while in Colorado. They had three children: Jessica, Jennifer, and Jake. Pentland and Barr divorced on January 16, 1990. Four days later, on January 20, 1990, Barr married fellow comedian Tom Arnold and became known as Roseanne Arnold during the marriage. Barr had met Arnold in 1983 in Minneapolis, where he opened for her stand-up comedy act. In 1988, Barr brought Arnold onto her sitcom, Roseanne, as a writer.
Barr has a lesbian sister, Geraldine Barr, and a gay brother, Ben Barr, both of whom inspired her to introduce gay characters into her sitcom. Barr has stated that she supports gay marriage. Geraldine was also Barr's manager while performing in comedy clubs and at the start of her sitcom. Geraldine claimed that Arnold tried to dominate Barr "for his own reasons". After being fired by Roseanne, Geraldine filed a $70.3 million breach of contract lawsuit in Superior Court of Los Angeles County on December 18, 1991. She said Barr promised her half the earnings from the Roseanne show for helping invent the "domestic goddess" character in 1981, serving as "writer, organizer, accountant, bookkeeper and confidante". Since it was six months past the statute of limitations, the suit was thrown out.
In a 1991 interview with People, Barr described herself as an "incest survivor", accusing both of her parents of physical and sexual abuse, claims which they and Geraldine publicly denied. Melvin Belli, her parents' lawyer, said that they had passed a lie detector test "with flying colors". Barr was even part of an incest recovery group, something she said her parents knew about but for which they were "in denial". On February 14, 2011, Barr and Geraldine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Barr admitted that the word "incest" could have been the wrong word to use and should have waited until her therapy was over before revealing the "darkest time" in her life. She told Oprah, "I was in a very unhappy relationship and I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs... to deal with the fact that I had some mental illness... I totally lost touch with reality... (and) I didn’t know what the truth was... I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family". She added that not everything was "made up", saying, "Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification". Geraldine said they did not speak for 12 years, but had recently reconciled.
Barr filed for divorce from Tom Arnold on April 18, 1994 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, citing irreconcilable differences. Their efforts to have children were unsuccessful. On February 14, 1995, Barr married Ben Thomas, her one-time personal security guard, at Caesars Tahoe with a reception at Planet Hollywood. In November 1994, she became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization and they had a son named Buck. The couple stayed together until 2002.
In 2002, Barr met Johnny Argent online after running a writing competition on her blog and began dating him in 2003, after a year of phone conversations. They live on a 46-acre macadamia nut farm located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Barr purchased the property in 2007 for $1.78 million. Barr has studied Kabbalah at the Kabbalah Centre and frequently comments on the discipline.
In 2015, Barr revealed she has been diagnosed with both macular degeneration and glaucoma, and thus is gradually losing her eyesight and expects to eventually go blind; she is consuming medical marijuana to decrease her intraocular pressure that is a feature of these diseases.
|1990||Look Who's Talking Too||Julie (voice)||Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress|
|1991||Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare||Childless Woman|
|1993||Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||Madame Zoe|
|1995||Blue in the Face||Dot|
|1997||Meet Wally Sparks||Cameo|
|2000||Cecil B. Demented||Cameo|
|2001||Joe Dirt||Joe Dirt's Mother||scenes deleted, replaced by Caroline Aaron in the final film|
|2004||Home on the Range||Maggie (voice)|
|2014||Master of the Good Name||Grandma Ruth||co-starring Mayim Bialik|
|2016||Roseanne For President!||Herself||Documentary about her 2012 presidential campaign|
|1988–97||Roseanne||Roseanne Harris-Conner||221 episodes|
Co-Executive producer 1991–1992
Executive Producer 1992–1997
Directed two episodes in 1995 and 1996
|1991||Backfield in Motion||Nancy Seavers||TV Movie (also executive producer)|
|1992||A Different World||Looting Wife (uncredited)||1 episode|
|1992||The Rosey and Buddy Show||Rosey (voice)||TV Movie (also creator, writer, & executive producer)|
|1992||The Jackie Thomas Show||Regina||2 episodes (executive producer-18 episodes)|
|1993||The Woman Who Loved Elvis||Joyce Jackson||TV Movie (also executive producer)|
|1993–95||The Larry Sanders Show||Roseanne||3 episodes|
|1994||General Hospital||Jennifer Smith||1 episode|
|1995||Women of the House||Roseanne||1 episode|
|1997||3rd Rock from the Sun||Janet||2 episodes|
|1997||The Nanny||Cousin Sheila||1 episode|
|2006||My Name Is Earl||Millie Banks||1 episode|
|2012||Downwardly Mobile||Rose Davis||Unsold Pilot co-starring John Goodman (also creator and executive producer)|
|2013||Portlandia||Interim Mayor/The New Mayor||2 episodes|
|2013||The Office||Carla Fern||2 episodes|
|2013–14||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||Kraang Prime||6 episodes|
|2014||The Millers||Darla||1 episode|
|1990||Roseanne: Live from Trump Castle||Herself (also writer, director, and executive producer)||HBO Comedy Special|
|1994||MTV Video Music Awards||Host||first female host|
|1998–2000||The Roseanne Show||Host (also executive producer)||77 episodes|
|2003||The Real Roseanne Show||Host (also executive producer)||2 episodes (+11 unaired)|
|2006||Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin||Herself (also writer and executive producer)||HBO Comedy Special|
|2009||The Tipping Point||Host (also creator and executive producer)||unsold political talk show pilot|
|2011||Roseanne's Nuts||Herself (also executive producer)||16 episodes|
|2012||Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne||Roastee|
|2014–15||Last Comic Standing||Judge||19 episodes|
|2014–15||Momsters: When Moms Go Bad||Host||7 episodes|
|1988||American Comedy Award||Funniest Female Performer in a TV Special||On Location: The Roseanne Barr Show||Won|
|1988||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1989||American Comedy Award||Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series||Roseanne||Won|
|1989||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program||Roseanne||Won|
|1990||American Comedy Award||Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1990||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Female TV Performer||Roseanne||Won|
|1990||People's Choice Awards||Favorite All-Around Female Entertainer||Roseanne||Won|
|1990||Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Supporting Actress||Look Who's Talking Too||Nominated|
|1991||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1992||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1992||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1992||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1993||American Comedy Award||Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series||Roseanne||Won|
|1993||GLAAD Media Awards||Vanguard Award||(shared with Tom Arnold)||Won|
|1993||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Roseanne||Won|
|1993||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Won|
|1994||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1994||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1994||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Female TV Performer||Roseanne||Won|
|1994||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1995||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1995||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Female TV Performer||Roseanne||Won|
|1996||American Comedy Award||Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series||Roseanne||Nominated|
|1999||Emmy Award||Outstanding Talk Show Host||The Roseanne Show||Nominated|
|2008||TV Land Award||Innovator Award||Roseanne (shared with cast)||Won|