Roseanne Barr managed to cultivate a Midwestern sensibility that has taken her a lot of places in her career. From 90s sitcom star to presidential candidate, Barr has managed to do a lot by representing the “domestic goddess.” What’s the comedian up to these days?
Roseanne Barr was born on November 3, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her family was Jewish but kept their heritage hidden from their friends. They even became superficially involved with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Barr began providing lectures for the Chruch when she was very young. She was also elected as president of Mormon youth group.
She had several health problems as a child. When she was three, doctors diagnosed her with Bell’s palsy, a nervous disorder which causes facial paralysis. Her family first sought the help of a rabbi, who wasn’t able to help. Then her mother brought in a Mormon preacher, who prayed for her. Shortly after, her palsy cleared up. What her family didn’t know at the time was that Bell’s palsy was frequently temporary, so Barr these days credit’s the preacher’s success to good timing.
Then when she was 16, she was hit by a car. The accident left her with a severe brain injury that radically changed her personality. She was hospitalized for just over six months. When she was 17, Barr had a child that she placed up for adoption. Many years later, they would reconnect, though they never became close.
When Roseanne Barr was 18, she moved to Colorado. She’d told her parents she was going to visit a friend for a couple weeks, but simply never came back. Once in Colorado, she spent the next decade performing stand-up at clubs around the state. It was during these routines she began to popularize the phrase “domestic goddess,” in reference to a hardworking housewife. She also married Bill Pentland, a motel clerk, in 1974. They had three kids over the next few years: Jessica, Jennifer, and Jake.
In the early 80s, she moved to Los Angeles. She did a bit on The Tonight Show in 1985, and the next year was on Late Night with David Letterman. In 1987 she had her first HBO special, The Roseanne Barr Show. Her performance earned her an American Comedy Award, and an offer to play Peg Bundy in Married… with Children. She turned it down, unhappy with how limited of a character Peg was.
Around the same time Fox was casting Married… with Children, NBC producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner from The Cosby Show were looking to create a more blue-collar family sitcom. They brought on Matt Williams (also from The Cosby Show.) Together, they wrote a script for ABC about a family where the mom worked in a factory, helping to support her husband and their three children. The family was heavily modeled after Roseanne’s own husband and children.
They brought on Roseanne Barr to play that mom, Roseanne Conner. When the show premiered in October 1988, over 21 million households watched it, making it the best debut of the season. After Barr saw Williams listed as one of the show’s creators in the credits, she fought him for creative control. Barr continued to fight against Williams after producers tried to persuade her, even walking off set near the end of the season. She won the battle, and ABC fired Williams after the thirteenth episode.
Roseanne would go on to run for nine seasons, and had high ratings for almost the entire run. Barr herself won a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a Kids Choice Awards, and three more American Comedy Awards. She also drew a $40 million salary for the last two season, making her the second-highest-paid woman in entertainment, after Oprah. The show was also the first real writing job for Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Gilmore Girls.)
During the show’s tenure, she became a popular icon for feminists and socialists in America, with many analysts outside show business highlighting how Barr represented a populism that the establishment left wasn’t able to capture in the late 20th century. That may seem like some pretty lofty claim for a broadcast sitcom, but Roseanne Barr would deliver on that populism, many years later.
Roseanne Barr for President
Outside of her hit sitcom, Roseanne Barr stayed busy. She released an autobiography in 1989, around the same time she made her big-screen debut in She-Devil. In 1990, just a couple days after divorcing her first husband, she married Tom Arnold. Their marriage lasted four years before she divorced him to marry Ben Thomas, who had once worked as her security guard. They used in-vitro fertilization to conceive and gave birth to a son named Buck in 1995.
Through the 90s she did numerous voice acting roles and guest appearances, notably becoming the first woman to host the MTV Video Music Awards. She had her own talk show for a couple seasons. In the early 2000s, she was the host of a cooking show, Domestic Goddess, and starred in a reality show about hosting a cooking show.
In 2005, Barr starting doing stand-up comedy again, and through the rest of the decade appeared across television. This cemented her role as one of America’s comedians. By the end of the 2000s, she began to take on fewer roles in movies and television.
On an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in August 2011, Roseanne Barr announced she was running for president of the United States. Her candidacy was under the Green Tea Party. She simultaneously announced that she was running for Prime Minister of Israel. A week after the Occupy Wall Street protests started, she attended the main occupation. There, she delivered a brief speech advocating that bankers should have their incomes capped at $100 million, and be sent to re-education camps (or executed by beheading if they refused.)
The following January she registered through the FEC as a Green Party candidate, running in the primary against Jill Stein. Stein, who is running as the Green Party candidate this year as well, won that nomination. Barr’s supporters were critical of the Green Party for not taking Barr’s candidacy seriously and accused the party of biasing the supposedly-neutral candidacy in favor of their candidate.
Shortly after failing to secure the Green nomination, Barr announced her candidacy under the much smaller Peace and Freedom Party, with Cindy Sheehan as her running mate. In August she won that party’s nomination but immediately ran into issues with her chosen running mate. Sheehan eventually left the ticket.
In the general election, Roseanne Barr earned approximately 50,000 votes, making her the sixth most popular candidate. Through her campaign, Barr earned several major endorsements. She was endorsed by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Green Party’s Black Caucus.
What’s Roseanne Barr Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Earlier this summer, a documentary following Roseanne’s campaign for president came out. Roseanne for President! was directed by Eric Weinrib, who’s probably best known for producing several Michael Moore documentaries. The film provided a behind-the-scenes look at Barr’s candidacy, for better or for worse.
The documentary has raised questions about entertainers running for president, especially in light of Trump’s successful bid for the Republican nomination this year, and brought new attention to Barr, who has been weaning herself off television appearances for the past few years.
Outside of TV and politics, Barr has managed to stay in headlines for making sexual assault allegations against comedian Louis C.K., on behalf of women writers she’s friends with. C.K. is yet to respond to these allegations, which have floated around with increasing prevalence over the past year.
In her personal life, Roseanne is living in Hawaii with her long-time partner John Argent, where they run a small macadamia nut farm.
The statement that Cindy Sheehan left the Peace and Freedom Party ticket before the election is false. In fact, she remained the nominee for Vice President right up through the day of the election, just as other Vice Presidential nominees do. It is true that after some disagreements with Barr, she did not actively make campaign appearances for the last part of the campaign, but she explicitly stated that she was not leaving the ticket, and she remained on the ballot in all four states where the ticket had ballot status, and is credited with exactly as many votes as Barr. And that number of votes (I just checked on Wikipedia) was not about 50,000, but 67,323. Cindy Sheehan was re-elected this year as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party California State Central Committee, on which she continues to serve. At the PFP convention in August she was part of the large majority that nominated Gloria La Riva and Dennis Banks for President and Vice President in the 2016 election.