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Mary Jean "Lily" Tomlin (born September 1, 1939) is an Americanmarker actress, comedian, writer and producer. She has won multiple awards from many quarters, including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, and a Grammy Award and has also been nominated for an Academy Award.

Early life

Tomlin was born in Detroitmarker, Michiganmarker, and raised in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projectsmarker, the daughter of Lillie Mae (née Ford), a housewife and nurse's aide, and Guy Tomlin, a factory worker. Tomlin's parents were Southern Baptists who moved to Detroit from Paducah, Kentuckymarker during the Great Depression. She is a 1957 graduate of Cass Technical High School. Tomlin attended Wayne State Universitymarker, where her interest in the theater and performing arts began. After college, Tomlin began doing stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Detroit and later in New York City. Her first television appearance was on The Merv Griffin Show in 1965.

Career

In 1969, Tomlin joined the sketch comedy show Laugh-In. Some characters from the show have been associated with her throughout her career, including the wisecracking, snorting telephone operator, Ernestine; the bratty five-year-old Edith Ann, seated in an over-sized rocking chair making rude noises while telling stories about her baby brother and pet dog Buster; and the Tasteful Lady, who lives a gracious, naїve life of entitlement in the upper class and shades of whom show up in Tomlin's film role in All of Me (see below). Additional characters include Susie the Sorority Girl, who appeared on Tomlin's album Modern Scream and in her 1975 appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Tomlin was also one of the first female comedians to break out in male drag. Though drag had been around in Hollywood for some time by men, Tomlin broke new ground by not only crossing gender stereotypes, but racial ones as well. She accomplished this in the late 70's with Pervis Hawkins, a black rhythm-and-blues soul singer (patterned after Luther Vandross), with a mustache, beard and close-cropped afro hairstyle, dressed in a three-piece suit. Tomlin used very little if any skin-darkening cosmetics (it usually depended on stage lighting) as part of the character.

AT&T offered Tomlin US$500,000 to play her character Ernestine in a commercial, but she declined saying it would compromise her artistic integrity. However, in 1976 she did appear as Ernestine in a parody of a commercial on Saturday Night Live, in which she proclaimed, "We don't care, we don't have to...we're the phone company." The character would later make a guest appearance at The Superhighway Summit at UCLAmarker, January 11, 1994, interrupting a speech being given on the information superhighway by then-Vice President Al Gore. In 2003, she made two commercials as Ernestine for WebEx.

Tomlin is noted for her versatility. In Robert Altman's Nashville, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she played Linnea Reese, a straitlaced, gospel-singing, mother of two deaf children who has an affair with a country singer (played by Keith Carradine). The Oscar that year went to Lee Grant for her role in Shampoo. She was also a secretary named Violet Newstead in Nine to Five, performed several comedic roles in the 1981 film The Incredible Shrinking Woman, and was a sickly heiress in the Steve Martin comedy All of Me.

She and Bette Midler played two pairs of identical twins who were switched at birth in the 1989 comedy Big Business. Tomlin also played chain-smoking waitress Doreen Piggott in Altman's 1993 ensemble film Short Cuts, and, in two films by director David O. Russell; she appeared as a peacenik Raku artist in Flirting with Disaster and later, as an existential detective in I ♥ Huckabees. In 2007, a video recording surfaced showing Tomlin and Russell in a heated exchange over the shooting of a scene in Huckabees.

Tomlin voiced Ms. Frizzle on the animated television series The Magic School Bus from 1994 to 1997. Also, in the 1990s, Tomlin appeared on the popular sitcom Murphy Brown as the title character's boss. In 2005 and 2006, she had a recurring role as Will Truman's boss Margot on Will & Grace. She appeared on the dramatic series The West Wing for four years (2002-2006) in the recurring role of presidential secretary Deborah Fiderer.

Tomlin starred in the 1985 one-woman Broadway show The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by her long-time life partner, writer/producer Jane Wagner. The show won her a Tony Award, and was made into a feature film in 1991. Tomlin revived the show for a brief run in 2000. In 1989, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.
Tomlin in 2008
She collaborated again with director Robert Altman, starring in the film A Prairie Home Companion, playing half of a middle-aged Midwestern singing duo with Meryl Streep.

In the 2008-2009 fifth season of Desperate Housewives she has a recurring role as Roberta, the sister of Mrs. McCluskey (played by Kathryn Joosten, who coincidentally had played Tomlin's secretarial predecessor on The West Wing). During the 2008 Emmy Awards, Tomlin appeared as part of a tribute to the influential 1960s television series Laugh-In. Tomlin voiced Tammy in the 2005 The Simpsons episode, "The Last of the Red Hat Mamas." Tomlin provided a voice for the film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which was released in August 2009.

Since its launch in 2008, Tomlin has been a contributor for wowOwow.com, a website for women to talk culture, politics and gossip.

Tomlin and Kathryn Joosten have been in talks to star in a Desperate Housewives spin-off, which was given the green light in May 2009.

Personal life

Tomlin met her life partner Jane Wagner in 1971. After watching an after school special written by Wagner, Tomlin invited her to Los Angeles to collaborate on a comedy album. Although Tomlin officially declared her homosexuality to the press in 2001, her sexual orientation has not really been a secret; in interviews she would often refer to Jane Wagner as her partner. As Tomlin herself stated in 2008, in an interview for Just Out magazine: "Everybody in the industry was certainly aware of my sexuality and of Jane... In interviews I always reference Jane and talk about Jane, but they don't always write about it."

Tomlin has been involved in a number of feminist and gay friendly film productions, and on her 1975 album Modern Scream she poked-fun at straight actors who make a point of distancing themselves from their homosexual characters answering the pseudo-interview question, she replied: "How did it feel to play a heterosexual? I've seen these women all my life, I know how they walk, I know how they talk ..."

Awards

Tomlin has received numerous awards, including: four primetime Emmys; a special 1977 Tony when she was appearing in her one woman Broadway show, Appearing Nitely; a second Tony as Best Actress, two Drama Desk Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her one woman performance in Jane Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; a CableACE Award for Executive Producing the film adaptation of The Search; a Grammy Award for her comedy album, This is a Recording (a collection of Ernestine the Telephone Operator routines) as well as nominations for her subsequent albums Modern Scream, And That's the Truth, and On Stage; and two Peabody Awards — the first for the ABC television special, Edith Ann’s Christmas: Just Say Noël and the second for narrating and executive producing the HBO film, The Celluloid Closet.

Tomlin was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2003 she was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

In March 2009, Tomlin received Fenway Health's Dr. Susan M. Love Award for her contributions to women's health.

(Selected list)

Tony Awards:
Best Actress in a Play Special Tony Award
  • 1977 Lifetime Achievement


Grammy Awards:
Best Comedy Album

Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
:Lily Tomlin, executive producer and star; Rocco Urbisci, producer; Jane Wagner, executive producer


Outstanding Writing - Comedy-Variety or Music Special
:Rosalyn Drexler, Ann Elder, Karyl Geld, Robert Illes, Lorne Michaels, Richard Pryor, Jim Rusk, Herb Sargent, James R. Stein, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, Rod Warren, George Yanok, Writers


:Ann Elder, Christopher Guest, Lorne Michaels, Earl Pomerantz, Jim Rusk, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, Rod Warren, George Yanok, Writers


:Chevy Chase, Tom Davis, Al Franken, Charles Grodin, Lorne Michaels, Paul Simon, Lily Tomlin, Alan Zweibel, Writers


Additionally, Lily (1973; above), in which she starred but did not produce, won for Outstanding Comedy-Variety, Variety Or Music Special, 1974 (Jerry McPhie, Herb Sargent, producers; Irene Pinn, executive producer)

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1969-1973 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Ernestine, the telephone operator; five-year-old Edith Ann; tasteful lady; other characters Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Performer in Music or Variety (1972)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1973 Lily Herself Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
1974 Lily Herself Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
1975 The Lily Tomlin Special Herself Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
Nashville Linnea Reese Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture - Female





1977 The Late Show Margo Sperling Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Silver Bear for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

The Paul Simon Special Herself Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
1978 Moment by Moment Trisha Rawlings
1980 9 to 5 Violet Newstead
1981 The Incredible Shrinking Woman Pat Kramer/Judith Beasley Fantafestival Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
Lily: Sold Out Herself Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
1984 All of Me Edwina Cutwater Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1988 Big Business Rose Ratliff/Rose Shelton
1991 The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Trudy, et. all American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
Golden Needle Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female



1992 Shadows and Fog Prostitute
1993 The Beverly Hillbillies Miss Jane Hathaway
And the Band Played On Dr. Selma Dritz Nominated — CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Short Cuts Doreen Piggot American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Golden Globe Special Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Volpi Cup

1994 Frasier Rita
1994-97 The Magic School Bus Ms. Frizzle Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program (1995)
Nominated — Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program (1996, 1997, 1998)
1995 Blue in the Face Waffle eater Nominated — American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1996 Getting Away with Murder Inga Mueller
Homicide: Life on the Streets Rose Halligan Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series
Flirting with Disaster Mary Schlichting Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
1996-98 Murphy Brown Kay Carter-Shepley
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Prof. Ruth Allen
The X-Files Lyda on "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas"
1999 Tea with Mussolini Georgie Rockwell
2000 Disney's The Kid Janet
2002-06 The West Wing Deborah Fiderer Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2003, 2005)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2003)
2002 Orange County Charlotte Cobb
2004 I Heart Huckabees Vivian Jaffe
2005 The Simpsons Tammy Episode:The Last of the Red Hat Mamas
2005-2006 Will & Grace Margot 2 episodes
2006 A Prairie Home Companion Rhonda Johnson Nominated — Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
The Ant Bully Mommo Voice
2007 The Walker Abigail
2008-09 Desperate Housewives Roberta
2009 The Pink Panther 2 Miss Berenger
Ponyo Toki Voice


References

  1. "Wives" Spins, New York Post, May 12, 2009
  2. Galloping "Girls", New York Post, May 18, 2009
  3. Radosta, Jim. "Lily Tomlin Interview." Just Out.
  4. [1]
  5. Lily Tomlin Awards and Nominations at Entertainment Awards Database
  6. Lily Tomlin Awards & Nominations at IMDB.com
  7. Grammy Award for comedy album This is a Recording
  8. [2]
  9. Lily Tomlin Awards & Nominations at IBDB
  10. Official Emmy Awards site


External links




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