Family & Companions
The "woman behind the woman" that is Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner first worked with her star interpreter on the landmark TV series "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" (NBC) and later wrote material for the comedienne's TV specials and stage works. A Tennessee native, Wagner moved to New York to pursue art studies. She initially worked as a textile designer before she earned her first credit as a writer on the inner-city drama "J.T." (CBS, 1969), which demonstrated her flair for social commentary. She hooked up with Tomlin shortly thereafter, providing her with comedy material for "Laugh-In" from 1970-1973.
Wagner quickly became Tomlin's closest collaborator and key sounding board, writing, directing and/or producing much of the comedienne's work in several media. For the big screen, Wagner scripted and directed the wildly unsuccessful romance "Moment by Moment" (1978), starring Tomlin and John Travolta, and co-wrote the pallid comedy remake "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981) as a Tomlin showcase. She also turned up as herself in the documentary "Lily Tomlin" (1987), and produced several of Tomlin's comedy and concert albums.
Perhaps the most successful Tomlin/Wagner project to date has been "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe." This one-woman show premiered in Seattle in 1985, and moved to Broadway where it ran for just over a year, earning its star a Tony Award. A book version hit the best-seller lists in 1987 and a filmed version was released in 1991. The multi-character, funny/sad musings about subjects both esoteric and everyday appealed to audiences across the board.
On television, Wagner wrote a number of Tomlin specials, including "Lily" (CBS, 1973), on which she shared an Emmy, and "The Lily Tomlin Show" (CBS, 1973). Beginning with "Lily" (ABC, 1975), Wagner was also billed as producer, which continued with "The Lily Tomlin Special" (ABC, 1975), the Emmy-winning "Lily--Sold Out" (CBS, 1981), "Lily for President" (CBS, 1982) and various tribute specials. The team collaborated on a series of "Edith Ann" cartoons for ABC, based on the introspective little girl created for "Laugh-In." So far, Wagner has written and produced "A Few Pieces of the Puzzle" (1994), "Homeless Go Home" (1994) and "Edith Ann's Christmas" (1996), with more in the works. Tomlin and Wagner, who had publicly confirmed their decades-long romance in 2000, got married in New York City on December 31, 2013.
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Authored the CBS TV drama special "J.T."
Wrote for the TV comedy-variety series "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"
Worked as a writer for two Lily Tomlin TV specials on CBS, "Lily" and "The Lily Tomlin Show"
Served as a producer and co-writer of Tomlin's two ABC TV specials, "Lily" and "The Lily Tomlin Special"
Made film directorial debut, "Moment by Moment", starring Tomlin
Wrote Tomlin's one-person stage show "The Search for Signs of Intelligence Life in the Universe"
Appeared on the PBS TV documentary, "Lily Tomlin", a backstage look at the preparations for the stage version of "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe"