02 Dec Roseanne Barr- Comedy & Controversy
Roseanne Cherrie Barr (born November 3, 1952) is an American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and former presidential candidate. Barr, age 70, began her career in stand-up comedy before gaining acclaim in the television sitcom Roseanne (1988–1997; 2018). She won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the show.
Barr became a stand-up comedian in 1980. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she gained fame through her role in Roseanne and other performances. Barr sparked controversy when performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a nationally aired baseball game on July 25, 1990. After singing the anthem in what many perceived to be a deliberately disrespectful manner, Barr grabbed her groin and spat. This performance was met with condemnation from baseball fans and sportswriters, and was called “disgraceful” by then-President
Barr has been active and outspoken on political issues. She won nearly 70,000 votes for president in the 2012 presidential election as the nominee of the left-wing Peace and Freedom Party. After Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, After Roseanne was revived, Trump called her to congratulate her on her show’s ratings and thank her for her support. She has frequently defended her support of Trump.
Roseanne was revived in 2018 on ABC. A ratings success, it was renewed for an additional season but was canceled after Barr made a controversial tweet condemned as racist by many commentators. Barr referred to the tweet as a “bad joke”. In 2022, she announced a comeback comedy special to be released on Fox Nation in 2023.
Barr was born on November 3, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to a 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 emigrants from Russia, and her maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Austria–Hungary and Lithuania. 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 elder came “exactly at the right time”.
Barr has stated that she is on the autism spectrum. At six years old, she discovered her first public stage by lecturing at LDS churches around Utah and was elected president of a Mormon youth group.
At 16, Barr was hit by a car; the incident left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her behavior changed so radically that she was institutionalized for eight months at Utah State Hospital.
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.
The following year, Barr had a baby, whom she put up for adoption. Seventeen years later, they reunited amicably.
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 a Rodney Dangerfield special and 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.
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.
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. 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.”
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.
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 a scorned housewife, 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 one to have done so until comedian Chelsea Handler hosted in 2010.
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 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.
Barr’s return to the stage culminated in an HBO Comedy Special Roseanne Barr: Blonde N Bitchin’, which aired November 2006, on HBO. Two nights earlier, Barr 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 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.
In February 2010, Barr headlined the inaugural Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival in 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.
In January 2011, Barr released her third book, Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm.
In 2011, she appeared in 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.
On July 13, 2011, 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 premiered on Lifetime, but was canceled in September of that year.
In August 2011, it was reported that Barr was working on a new sitcom with 20th Century Fox Television titled Downwardly Mobile. Eric Gilliland was attached as co-creator, writer and executive producer; Gilliland was also a writer on Roseanne. In October 2011, NBC picked up the show but later dropped it. A pilot was filmed but initially ended up being shelved by the network. Barr called her progressive politics the sole reason behind the pilot’s rejection. She said she was notified that the show would not be picked up due to its being labeled “too polarizing” by network executives.
Barr was roasted by Comedy Central in August 2012. After stating that he would not, Barr’s former spouse Tom Arnold appeared on the roast.
In the summer of 2014 Barr joined Keenen Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters as a judge on Last Comic Standing on NBC.
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, were shopping an eight-episode revival of Roseanne, with its original cast and Barr serving as producer, to various networks and Netflix. On May 16, 2017, ABC picked up the revival for mid-season 2018.
On March 27, 2018, the revived, 10th season of Roseanne premiered on ABC to high ratings. On March 30, 2018, ABC renewed the series for an 11th season, with thirteen episodes. On May 29, 2018, the series was canceled by ABC in the aftermath of a tweet widely considered to be racist. Barr and Tom Werner later came to an agreement on relinquishing her producer’s stake in a spin-off titled The Conners, which ABC ordered for the fall season soon after.
In September 2022, it was announced that Barr would appear in a new comedy special, simply titled A Roseanne Comedy Special. It is set to be released in early 2023 on the streaming service Fox Nation.
Relationships and children
Barr has been married three times and has five children. In 1970, when she was 17, Barr had a child, Brandi Ann Brown, 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 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 (19-hectare) 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.
Barr’s sister, Geraldine, is a lesbian, while her brother, Ben, is gay. Barr has stated that this inspired her to introduce gay characters into her sitcom, and to support same sex marriage.
Geraldine worked as Barr’s manager during the early part of her career, and clashed with Barr’s second husband, Tom Arnold. Barr fired Geraldine, leading Geraldine to file 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 as recompense for helping invent the “domestic goddess” character in 1981, and for serving as “writer, organizer, accountant, bookkeeper and confidante”. Since the statute of limitations had expired, 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 they had passed a lie detector test “with flying colors”. Barr was 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 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 Winfrey, “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 reconciled.
In the mid-1990s, Barr had multiple cosmetic surgeries performed, such as a breast reduction, tummy tuck, and a nose job. During the late 1990s she had gastric bypass surgery.
In 1994, Roseanne announced that she had dissociative identity disorder caused by childhood abuse. She had personalities named Baby, Cindy, Evangelina, Heather, Joey, Kevin, Nobody, Somebody, and Susan as well as her main personality, Roseanne. By 2001, her personalities had mostly fused into one personality after ten years of hard work.
In 2015, Barr revealed she had been diagnosed with both macular degeneration and glaucoma, and thus was gradually losing her eyesight and expected to eventually go blind. She consumed medical marijuana to decrease her high intraocular pressure – a feature of these diseases. Barr later revealed that she was misdiagnosed and that her vision problem is really due to a mole resting behind her eye, which could be corrected through surgery.
Barr elicited criticism in July 2009 when she posed as Adolf Hitler in a feature for the satirical Jewish publication Heeb magazine, called “That Oven Feelin'”. The Nazi theme was reportedly her suggestion, and featured her with a Hitler mustache and swastika arm-band, holding a tray of burnt gingerbread man cookies the article referred to as “burnt Jew cookies”.The magazine’s publisher, Josh Neuman, said the photos were taken for satire and were not done for shock value. Barr, who is Jewish, said she was “making fun of Hitler, not his victims”. Fox News TV host Bill O’Reilly was highly critical of her for “mocking the Holocaust” and Extra‘s Mario Lopez stated “Come on, Roseanne. Hitler jokes are never funny.” The revival of her show in March 2018 caused the photos to resurface on social media and renewed mentions of the incident in the Jewish magazine The Forward and the Los Angeles Times, among others.
Between 2014 and 2018, Barr had several Tweeting incidents on Twitter. We won’t waste time on them here, however, you can always check out social media for more details.
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 self-created “Green Tea Party” ticket. Her candidacy called attention to economics, personal health and meditation.
She also stated 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, she appeared at the Occupy Wall Street protests and spoke in support of the protestors. “She stated any ‘guilty’ Wall Street bankers should be forced to give up any income over $100 million, and if they are unable to live on that, be sent to re-education camps, and if that doesn’t help be beheaded“.
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 presidential nomination on February 2. On July 14, she came in second in the 2012 Green Party presidential primaries and subsequent convention roll call, losing the nomination to Jill Stein. Stein chose Cheri Honkala as her running-mate after campaign manager Ben Manski said Barr was shortlisted for the job.
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 that her name be 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 would be leaving the campaign.
Barr appeared on the ballot in California, Colorado, and Florida. She did not appear on the ballot in her home state of Hawaii, which did not allow write-in votes. She ended up voting 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 thirty-six 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.”
Net worth is approximately $80 Million.
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.”
In May 2018, Barr defended her support for Trump on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
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