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Also Known As: Roseanne Arnold, Roseanne Cherie Barr, Roseanne, Roseanne Thomas Died:
Born: November 3, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Profession: TV host, comedian, actor, producer, writer, director, dishwasher, window dresser, cocktail waitress, prostitute

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most outspoken and successful comediennes of the 1980s and 1990s, Roseanne Barr gave voice to the joys and frustrations of women's lives in Middle America, first, through her stand-up career, and later, as the star and producer of her own decade-defining sitcom "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997). The show was among the most honest portrayals of domestic life on television, but its consistent high ratings and numerous award wins were occasionally outshone by the tabloid coverage of its star, who garnered controversy for her multiple marriages - most famously to obnoxious comic Tom Arnold - her occasionally ruthless backstage manner on her show, and topped off by her infamous mangling of the "Star Spangled Banner" to the boos of sports fans and patriots everywhere. In the decade following "Rosanne," Barr entered into further tumultuous romantic relationships, made short-lived attempts to return to television, and even revived her stand-up career, although never again would she achieve the zeitgeist level of notoriety she had enjoyed at the height of her fame. However outlandish Roseanne would become, there was no denying she had struck a chord with middle-class viewers who, for a brief moment in...

One of the most outspoken and successful comediennes of the 1980s and 1990s, Roseanne Barr gave voice to the joys and frustrations of women's lives in Middle America, first, through her stand-up career, and later, as the star and producer of her own decade-defining sitcom "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997). The show was among the most honest portrayals of domestic life on television, but its consistent high ratings and numerous award wins were occasionally outshone by the tabloid coverage of its star, who garnered controversy for her multiple marriages - most famously to obnoxious comic Tom Arnold - her occasionally ruthless backstage manner on her show, and topped off by her infamous mangling of the "Star Spangled Banner" to the boos of sports fans and patriots everywhere. In the decade following "Rosanne," Barr entered into further tumultuous romantic relationships, made short-lived attempts to return to television, and even revived her stand-up career, although never again would she achieve the zeitgeist level of notoriety she had enjoyed at the height of her fame. However outlandish Roseanne would become, there was no denying she had struck a chord with middle-class viewers who, for a brief moment in time, made Roseanne the most powerful woman on television.

Born Roseanne Cherrie Barr in Salt Lake City, UT on Nov. 3, 1952 to a bookkeeper mother and a salesman father, she found her calling in performance at an early age, often entertaining her family when they gathered for the Sabbath on Friday evenings. Reportedly, Barr's parents kept their Jewish identity hidden and instead maintained an interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to blend in with their neighbors. Barr was active in school plays, but sought a bigger audience outside of Utah. By the age of 17, she had dropped out of school and relocated to an artists' colony in Colorado. She was also reportedly involved a car accident at this time, which resulted in post-traumatic stress and required a stint in a local institution. While there, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Brandi Brown, whom she gave up for adoption (the pair would later reunite in 1989 and remain close). Three years later, she married Bill Pentland, with whom she had three children, two daughters and a son.

While working part-time as a waitress and window dresser, she was encouraged by customers to take her quick wit to comedy clubs. Gathering up the nerve, she stepped in front of the mike for the first time. By the early 1980s, she had risen to the top of the Denver comedy scene. Barr's comedy was based around her experiences as a housewife and mother, which she referred to collectively as "domestic goddesses." A dry and drawling delivery and a wickedly sharp tongue helped attract the attention of comics in Los Angeles, who asked her to try out for Mitzi Shore, legendary owner of the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. She nailed her audition and scored big with fickle L.A. crowds; she also landed one of her earliest television appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992) in 1985 - the dream gig for any stand-up comic.

More television appearances led to being signed to her own ABC series, in which she starred as Roseanne Connor, the opinionated but open-minded force of nature at the center of a closely-knit blue-collar family in Illinois. Critics singled out the show for its humor, which was biting but affectionate, and for its portrayal of women, which was built on ideas and open dialogue rather than appearances. The show, which rose to No. 2 during its debut season, was not afraid to tackle controversial subjects, which included through the years, gay marriage, obesity, alcoholism, unemployment and domestic violence. All subjects were addressed during its network run, but the show refused to tap these issues for their hot-button quality or to turn them into moral soapboxes. Rather, they were all woven into one of the most accurate depictions of middle-class life on television. For its efforts, the show won a Golden Globe in 1993 and a Peabody Award in 1992. Barr herself, who had done little to no acting prior to the program's launch, won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal.

Though the Connor family managed to pull together despite all manner of troubles, Barr herself was frequently at the center of several domestic and business hurricanes that put her front and center on tabloids for the better part of a decade. Her marriage to Pentland, who had served as executive consultant on "Roseanne" during its first season, slowly unraveled between 1988 and 1990, due in no small part to Barr's growing romance with fellow comic and writer Tom Arnold. After Barr and Pentland divorced in 1990, she married Arnold just four days after the divorce was completed. Tongues wagged when the heretofore unknown Arnold rose conveniently and quickly to the rank of executive producer. By the midpoint of the show's network run, Barr had dismissed many of its writers and essentially taken over its production. The pair was open and brash about their success - Arnold referred to them as "America's worst nightmare: white trash with money" - and audiences found the joined-at-the-hip coupling either hilarious or repellant. A much-publicized comedy tour, followed by a short-lived 1992 series for Arnold (ABC's underrated "Jackie Thomas Show") and the opening of their own diner in 1993, did not endear them to their detractors, nor did Barr's very vocal feuding with ABC over their alleged failure to promote her husband's show.

Further affecting Barr's standing as spokesperson for America's working mothers and wives was a 1990 incident in which she deliberately mangled a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner," following it up with a ballplayer-style spit and readjustment of her crotch. The performance was broadcast ad nauseam on television newscasts, which clucked over her lack of taste; even then-President George H.W. Bush weighed in on the controversy. This was soon followed by claims to the press in 1991 that she had been sexually abused by her parents as a child. Barr's parents and siblings both denied the charges and even took polygraph tests to prove their innocence. The incident resulted in a 10-year estrangement from her family. It seemed to outsider that Barr had gone off the rails; not surprisingly, Barr and Arnold divorced in 1994 under an unpleasant cloud of alleged spousal and child abuse

Barr's appearances outside "Roseanne" were infrequent. She was top-billed opposite Meryl Streep in "She-Devil" (1989), a failed film adaptation of the Fay Weldon novel. She provided the voice of baby Julie in "Look Who's Talking Too" (1990) and made a cameo with Arnold (as themselves) in "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" (1991). Barr and Arnold also co-starred in two likable TV movies, "Backfield in Motion" (1991) and "The Woman Who Loved Elvis" (1993), and were featured in the quirky documentary "Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood" (1994), about an Appalachian eccentric who winds up a guest on "Roseanne." She also published her autobiography, Roseanne: My Life as a Woman; a subsequent book, My Lives which alleged that she suffered from multiple personality disorder.

The ratings on "Roseanne" began to decline in its seventh season (1994-95). The series, which had once bested "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-1992), had slipped into frequent stunt episodes and gag casting, though a storyline about Roseanne's unexpected pregnancy offered a spark of the series' previous level of quality. Barr herself married again that year, this time to her security guard, Ben Thomas, with whom she would have a son, Buck. "Roseanne" itself limped through its final two seasons, ending in 1997 after seeing the perennially hard-luck Connors enjoy a whirlwind tour of the country after winning the lottery. As with so many of Barr's projects and personal choices, the final season was a divisive issue among viewers.

Following the series' conclusion, Barr served as executive producer and occasional guest star of a well-regarded sketch comedy series, "Saturday Night Special" (Fox, 1996), which failed to connect with audiences. She also played the Wicked Witch of the West in a glitzy production of "The Wizard of Oz" at Madison Square Garden in 1997; in typical Barr fashion, she made outlandish claims of studying serial killers to aid her portrayal of the Witch. The following year, she hosted her own talk show, "The Roseanne Show" (syndicated, 1998-2000), which fell off in ratings after a strong start during its first season.

Barr filed for divorce from Thomas in 1998 under allegations of his alcoholism and threats to abduct their son; the suit was soon dropped and audiences found her renewing her vows with Thomas in a 1999 episode of her talk show. The marriage lasted until 2002, when they divorced for good. Barr began exploring religion via Kabbalah, which apparently gave her some inner peace. She reunited with her family and returned to television with an offbeat idea: a reality show about Barr hosting a cooking show. The series, originally titled "Domestic Goddess" but later changed to "The Real Roseanne Show" (ABC, 2003) came to a halt when Barr fell ill during production, and it was cancelled after airing only a single episode.

Barr contributed her voice to the animated Disney feature "Home on the Range" in 2004; the following year, she reinstated her maiden surname and returned to stand-up with an international tour, including an appearance at Comic Relief in 2006 and her first dates in Europe. Audiences noted that her appearance had changed somewhat since her last television appearances; in addition to changing her hair from brunette to blonde - her 2006 HBO special was "Roseanne Barr: Blond N Bitchin'" - Barr had undergone some plastic surgery, including a rhinoplasty for sleep apnea and a breast reduction. During this same period, she also surprised many by exploring a singing career; the result of this phase was a charming children's DVD called "Rockin' with Rosie," which was released through her own production company in 2006. And there were well-received guest appearances on television series like "My Name is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09). Naturally, this spawned rumors of a return to network television, most notably with a recurring role on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012).

In 2007, Barr replaced Sandra Bernhard as the host of "The Search for America's Funniest Mom" (Nick at Nite, 2005), a reality series about women whose own lives paralleled hers. That same year, she began hosting her own radio talk show on KCAA in Los Angeles. The program was off to a rocky start when her comments about gays and political activism garnered negative media attention. She also maintained her own website, RoseanneWorld.com, which gave voice to her many political and social concerns. In early 2011, Barr released her third book, Rosannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm, followed that summer by the premiere of "Rosanne's Nuts" (Lifetime, 2011), a reality series capturing the exploits of Barr, her boyfriend, Johnny Argent, and her son as they attempt to run a macadamia farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. By the fall of that year, the show had been cancelled, although an unfazed Barr had apparently already moved on to loftier endeavors. After voicing her intentions to host Jay Leno on his late night talk show the previous summer, Barr made headlines in February 2012 when she officially filed paperwork as a Green Party candidate in the presidential elections to be held later that year. Although not expecting to become the party's nominee, she stated that she eagerly looked forward to debating many socio-economic issues in the months ahead.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 I Am Comic (2010)
3.
5.
 Home on the Range (2004) Voice Of Maggie
6.
 15 Minutes (2001) Herself (Cameo Appearance)
7.
 Eyes of Tammy Faye, The (2000) Herself--Entertainer
8.
 Get Bruce (1999) Herself
9.
10.
 Unzipped (1995) Herself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1976:
Began working as a window dresser and part-time cocktail waitress; encouraged by her bar customers to perform stand-up
:
Performed stand-up in punk bars, biker bars and Unitarian Church coffeehouses in Denver
1982:
Produced showcase for women performers at the University of Boulder, CO
1982:
Hired to perform at the Denver Comedy Club
1983:
Won Denver Laff-Off competition in stand-up comedy
1983:
Hired by Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore in Los Angeles
1983:
Made first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC)
1984:
Moved to Los Angeles with family and toured for 18 weeks as Julio Iglesias' opening act
1987:
First TV special, "On Location: The Roseanne Barr Show" (HBO)
1988:
Made series acting debut on sitcom "Roseanne" (ABC); series based on her life and comedy act; received credit as producer from 1990 until the series ended in 1997
1989:
Made her feature film acting debut in "She Devil" opposite Meryl Streep
1990:
Supplied the voice of baby Julie in the feature film sequel "Look Who's Talking Too"
1990:
Created and executive produced the ABC animated series "Little Rosey"
1991:
Changed professional name to Roseanne Arnold after she and Tom Arnold agreed that she would take his name if he converted to Judaism
:
Formed Barnold Productions with Tom Arnold; changed company's name to Wapello County Productions (after the Iowa county in which they owned a farm) when Barr changed her name
1991:
Starred in first made-for-TV movie, "Backfield in Motion" (ABC)
1991:
Had a small role in "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" (credited as Mrs. Tom Arnold)
1991:
Made her TV directorial debut with the HBO comedy special "Roseanne Barr Live from Trump Castle"; also executive produced, wrote and starred in
1992:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1992:
Hosted "Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International"
1992:
Executive produced first TV series in which she did not star, "The Jackie Thomas Show" (ABC) starring husband Tom Arnold
1993:
Signed a long-term TV production deal with Warner Bros. under the Wappello County Productions banner
1993:
Executive produced first TV-movie, "The Woman Who Loved Elvis" (ABC); also starred
1994:
Announced that her professional name was to be Roseanne after her separation from husband Tom Arnold
1997:
Stage acting debut as the Wicked Witch of the West/Elvira Gulch in NYC production of "The Wizard of Oz"
1998:
Hosted the syndicated daytime talk program "The Roseanne Show"
2003:
Re-adopted her last name "Barr"
2003:
Starred on her own reality series "The Real Roseanne Show" (ABC); show canceled after just two weeks on the air
2004:
Voice of Maggie (The Outsider) in the animated feature "Home on the Range"
2004:
Guest starred on CBS's "Two and a Half Men" as the sister of Charlie Sheen's maid
2006:
Returned to mark her first standup special in a decade with HBO's "Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin'"
2007:
Hosted season three of "The Search for the Funniest Mom in America" on Nick at Nite
2008:
Headlined an act at the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip
2009:
Hosted a politically-themed radio show on KPFK
2011:
Released her third book titled <i>Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm<i>
2011:
Returned to television with "Roseanne's Nuts," a Lifetime series following Barr as she ran a 40-acre nut farm on Hawaii's Big Island; also executive produced
2012:
Unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States under the Green Party
2013:
Announced to star and produce sitcom for NBC; also filmed guest starring role on "The Office" (NBC)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"I just wanted to hold a mirror up to the society we live in, and I really wanted to honor what was ordinary and yet extraordinary about moms and family. The wisecracks were a way of saying a lot of things, of telling the truth, expressing sorrow, breaking a stalemate. There was never sweet, lilting laughter. The show was always about something." --Roseanne to Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1997 as her sitcom was nearing its final episode.

"She quite simply revolutionized the portrayal of gender issues on television." --Bernard Welt, chairman of the department of academic studies at the Corcoran School of Art, quoted in The New York Times, April 16, 1997.

"There's no room for anybody but me in the whole fuckin' world ... I'm really appalled by the fact that everybody with their Enquiring Minds feels they should know the color of my underwear and how much I weigh, but if you say, 'don't you want to know what we did in Iran?' they don't fuckin' have the Enquiring Mind for THAT." --Roseanne to Entertainment Weekly, April 21, 1995.

"Roseanne Barr has a history of extreme behavior in public" --Lynn Hirschberg in Vanity Fair, December 1990.

On her housewife days: "It was a major reality alert, where your brain slides out of your head and falls on the floor. I said, 'Oh, my God. I love my husband. I love my kids, but I need something more--like, perhaps, a life. So, I wait for my husband to come home and I say, 'Hi, honey, you pencil-necked geek. Ever look in the mirror and notice you've got a weak and characterless chin? So he gives me that intuitively male response: 'Gosh, it seems like you're not happy, Roseanne ... Maybe you're ovulating.'"

"We're America's worst nightmare. White trash with money!" --Tom Arnold in Us, April 16, 1990.

Arnold's former agent, Arlyne Rothberg, filed a $20 million law suit against her, claiming that the 1994 autobiography "My Lives", misrepresented their relationship.

On people who find sex intriguing..."Well, they're taking drugs to make them that way. No one really enjoys it once they're past 25. But you kind of feel you owe it to somebody,"--Roseanne People September 16, 2002

"...if there's a guy out there, and he's older than me and richer than me, that is No. 1. By the way, I did get a copy of the Forbes 500 list, and several of them are divorced and my age, and I sent each of them a personalized note. I said, "I see you're available. I am available for dinner." Because I just want somebody to come and get me. They have to do all of the stuff; I'm not going to do anything. I'm not looking, because I have bad taste. I can't tell a good one from a bad one. And even if I do get a good one, I make him go bad, too. So if anybody's rich enough and brave enough and really, really cares, then we'll see."-Roseanne on remaining celibate

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
William Pentland. Married on February 4, 1974; divorced on January 16, 1990; was working as a hotel clerk when Roseanne met him; later worked for a time for the United States Postal Service.
husband:
Tom Arnold. Actor, comedian, producer. Born on March 6, 1959; married on January 20, 1990; Roseanne had earlier called off their wedding on December 16, 1989, citing that Arnold had to do more about his drug problem; met in 1983 when he opened for Roseanne's act in Minnesota; served as her manager and producer; had recurring role on "Roseanne" and was co-writer of Roseanne's stand-up material; had a second marriage ceremony on June 23, 1991 (to celebrate Tom Arnold's conversion to Judaism); filed for divorce on April 18, 1994, citing irreconcilable differences, charges were dropped three days later; Roseanne filed for divorce again on May 13, 1994 once again citing irreconcilable differences.
husband:
Ben Thomas. Married on February 14, 1995; former bodyguard for Roseanne; born c. 1966; filed for divorce on January 7, 1998; reported to have reconciled in May 1998; separated in 2001; she filed for divorce in March 2002; divorced finalized in October 2002; share custody of their son Buck.
companion:
Johnny Argent. Musician. Met when he submitted songs to her via internet; four years older than Roseanne; dating as of July 2003.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jerry Barr. Blanket salesman. Roseanne claimed "My father molested me until I left home at age 17" at a conference of sexual abuse victims on September 21, 1991 in Denver; father denied charges.
mother:
Helen Barr. Bookkeeper, cashier at Dee's Hamburger Drive-In. Appeared with Roseanne on the Lifetime interview tribute special, "Like Mother, Like Daughter" (1988); saluted by Roseanne on the Lifetime interview tribute special, "Lifetime Salutes Mom" (1987); at a conference of sexual abuse victims held in Denver on September 21, 1991 Roseanne said "My mother molested me as a small child"; in PEOPLE magazine Arnold wrote, "My mother abused me from the time I was an infant until I was 6 or 7 years old . . . She hurt me psychologically and physically"; mother denied charges.
brother:
Ben Barr. Openly gay, outed by Roseanne; executive director of the Utah AIDS Foundation.
sister:
Stephanie Barr.
sister:
Geraldine Barr. Filed a $70.3 million suit against Roseanne in December 1991, claiming she helped create her sister's "domestic goddess" character and the "Roseanne" character on the hit TV series; an open lesbian.
daughter:
Brandi Brown. Given up for adoption c. 1971; met each other again after approximately 18 years.
daughter:
Jessica Pentland. Born c. 1975; reportedly admitted to an alcohol abuse recovery center in 1989.
daughter:
Jennifer Pentland. Born c. 1976.
son:
Jake Pentland. Born c. 1977.
son:
Buck Thomas. Born on Aug. 5, 1995; father Ben Thomas; conceived through an in-vitro procedure after operation to reverse the tubal ligation she underwent while married to Tom Arnold failed.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Roseanne: My Life As a Woman" Harper & Row
"My Lives"

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