Early Life

Roseanne Cherrie Barr was born November 3, 1952 in Salt Lake City to a small working-class family of Jewish refugees. She dropped out of school when she was 17 years old and moved to a Colorado artist's commune. There, she met first husband Bill Pentland, who was remarkable because he posessed one of the few bathtubs in the county. They married and in 1973 the two of them relocated to Denver together, where they had three children together and struggled financially -- the entire family lived together in one 600-foot house. Roseanne also had one daughter prior to this marriage, Brandi Brown, who was put up for adoption. The two have since reconciled publicly.

Barr's commitment to comedy began early: apocryphal stories have her performing in front of her family during Sabbath dinners at her grandmother's house when she was only three years old. While in highschool, Roseanne also wrote, directed and starred in annual neighborhood plays and in various shows at her junior high school.

In 1976, Roseanne joined the workforce and became first a part-time window dresser and then eventually a cocktail waitress. Because her customers consistantly praised her sense of humor, she was encouraged to audition at a local comedy club. She was well-received there and began to hone a unique routine based on her experiences as a working-class, domestic woman. This bit quickly crystallized around one primary character: a controlling, sharp-witted (and equally sharp-tongued) "Domestic Goddess."


By 1983, Roseanne was so successful locally that she was known informally as the "Queen of Comedy" in Denver. She began to tour nationally and quickly received the support of L.A. comedians like Sam Kinison and Louis Anderson, who encouraged her to audition for Mitzi Shore at the Comedy Store. Not only was she instantly hired, but she was also asked that same evening to appear on George Schlatter's ABC special Funny. During rehearsal, she heard somebody in the audience exclaim "Roseanne, I love you!" At first, Roseanne thought that this was just an especially enthusiastic fan, but later that night the audience member introduced himself as Jim McCawley, a talent scout for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. McCawley booked her for the subsequent Friday. All in all, not a bad week for a self-described Domestic Goddess.

After further honing her routine, subsequent appearances on the Tonight Show, an HBO special and a few television commercials, Barr was approached by Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey, who wanted her to appear in a weekly sitcom. According to legend, she and Kinison were originally considered for the roles of Peg and Al Bundy in Married With Children, but were ultimately deemed too controversial for the parts. Eventually Werner and Carsey decided to fashion the sitcom around Roseanne's Domestic Goddess routine.

Roseanne debuted in October of 1988 and was a fast success: within a year, it had overtaken The Cosby Show as the top-rated show on television, a position it held for seven years. Critics also rated the show highly: Los Angeles Times television columnist Howard Rosenberg has since opined that “Roseanne was enormously influential... {it} chang{ed} the ways that viewers regarded sitcom families and their relationship to the world they portrayed."


Lots of awards soon followed. Barr was given the Golden Globe Award for four years in a row -- in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 -- for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1992 alone, she received a Best Actress award from The American Television Awards and nominations from the American Comedy Awards, from the NCN (Social Issue) Awards and for an Emmy Award as Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1993 she clinched the Emmy and the American Comedy Award; in 1995 she received the People's Choice Award that she had been nominated for at the Golden Globes for the prior two years. Further nominations followed and Roseanne eventually won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. In 1997, she was honored at the American Comedy Awards for her nine years of achievement in Roseanne.

The television show frequently reflected events in Roseanne's own life. When she received breast reduction surgery, so did her character, Roseanne Conner. When she split from Pentland in 1990 and remarried Tom Arnold a mere four days later, taking his last name, Arnold became a fixture on the show. When the marriage ended, she reclaimed her last name and Arnold ceased his appearances on Roseanne. When she then married her bodyguard, Ben Thomas, and had a child through in vitro fertilization, Conner became pregnant again.

In 1997, the show ended, and Barr left for New York in order to appear in the Madison Square Garden production of The Wizard of Oz as the Wicked Witch of the West. In a held-over six week run, the show sold over 300,000 tickets – more than any other show on Broadway that year.

The following year, Roseanne hosted her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, which ran for two years before it was cancelled in 2000. In 2003, she starred in both a cooking show, Domestic Goddess, and a reality show, The Real Roseanne Show about hosting a cooking show. An illness and emergency hysterectomy brought a premature end to what very well might have been the most meta- television concept ever imagined.

In 2005, Barr returned to stand-up comedy. Since then, she has toured the world, released a children's DVD (Rockin' with Roseanne: Calling All Kids), suggested that she is working up to a second HBO special and performed her first-ever live dates in Europe, as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival in Leicester, England.


Roseanne has also been an extremely controversial figure in pop culture. Her most notorious kerfluffle occurred when she was asked to open a baseball game in San Diego, California. After being asked to "bring some humor" to the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner," Roseanne happily obliged by offering an imitation of a stereotypical baseball player, grabbing her crotch and spitting while she screeched out the first few bars of the song before getting booed off the field.

Barr also gained notoriety for her claims that she and her siblings had been physically and sexually abused as children, a charge that both her siblings and her parents denied. Subsequent court battles led to more than a decade without contact between Roseanne and her family, though two years after she divorced Thomas, she repaired familial relations and even started using Barr as her last name again.

Other Achievements

Roseanne has also appeared in one T.V. movie, "Backfield in Motion," and several films. Although she has only had a starring role in the critically and commercially disappointing She-Devil, she has also had bit or offscreen parts in Blue in the Face, 15 Minutes, Cecil B. Demented, Home on the Range, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Meet Wally Sparks, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Woman Who Loved Elvis, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Look Who's Talking Too.

Roseanne has also written two best-selling autobiographical books, Roseanne: My Life As a Woman and My Lives. She also remains actively involved in her own production company, Full Moon High Tide Productions and is currently in pre-production on a new TV show. She has recently set-up The Roseanne Foundation, a non-profit organization raising funds to develop support programs with practical solutions that deal with the effects of child abuse in conjunction with and under the supervision of Dr. Colin Ross.


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