Roseanne Barr has made her name as a comedienne who will always do the unexpected. With a hit sitcom behind her, here are some of the most incredible stories you may not have heard about her before.
Partners In Competition
Meeting a romantic partner online has become the norm in recent years. However, long before it was expected, Roseanne met her current partner through a competition she ran on her personal blog. The two began a romance over the phone before finally meeting a year later.
The Nutty Side Of Paradise
After a long-lived career in show business, Roseanne needed a break from the Hollywood whirlwind. Not only did she escape to the paradise that is Hawaii, but Roseanne embarked on an altogether different career. In an effort to get in touch with her more natural side, Roseanne purchased a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii in 2007. It seemed the physical labor helped to calm Roseanne, as she was involved in picking the nuts, tending an organic garden, and keeping bees.
Super Snickers Bowl
Roseanne Barr might have been partial to macadamia nuts, but that certainly didn’t prevent her from appearing in an ad for the peanut-packed candy bar, Snickers. The commercial made its debut at the 2011 Super Bowl and quickly became a fan favorite. After the game finished airing, it was revealed to be the most watched commercial of the game, as viewers continuously rewound in order to watch Roseanne get knocked out by a giant log over and over again.
An Early Start
When Roseanne was just 17 years old, she gave birth to her first child, whom she named Brandi. Roseanne decided it would be in both of their best interests if Brandi was adopted, but the mother and daughter were reunited when Roseanne was older and better able to care for children. Roseanne would eventually build her career by sharing scenes from her family life with the public, so it’s no surprise she wanted to welcome her first daughter back into the family.
Sing Out Louise
In 1990, Roseanne Barr stepped out of her comfort zone once again when she took on the task of singing the National Anthem at a Padres game in San Diego. She always planned to put her own spin on the melody, but as they approached the stadium by helicopter, her then-husband, Tom Arnold, hinted that maybe she should try to play it safe. Roseanne chose not to heed his advice, which resulted in a divisive performance punctuated by less than stellar vocals.
Preaching To The Choir
Born and raised in the Mormon enclave of Salt Lake City, Barr’s Jewish heritage was certainly uncommon for the area. In order to blend in better, her mother often took her children to the local Mormon church for Sunday services. Somehow, a six-year-old Roseanne became a charismatic presence in the church, even delivering well-loved sermons to the congregation. She shared that when she tried to do the same at a synagogue, she bombed more than she succeeded.
Barr might have spun her legacy depicting the life of an overweight, blue-collar worker, but after the end of her sitcom, she wanted to reinvent her image a little more. She decided to go under the knife and have gastric bypass surgery in order to slim down from her Roseanne days. Even if she was always brash about being out of the Hollywood box when it came to her looks, it was still an important change for her to make.
Inspiration Doesn’t Come Cheap
Considering the lengths writer and producer Matt Williams went to in order to observe Barr’s real-life family before turning it into a sitcom, Barr was dismayed to discover that she wouldn’t be given any credit for the creation of the show. She explained in an essay for Vulture, that after watching the show with the rest of the cast, she was only credited as ‘starring.’ “I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.”
Love And Marriage
It’s not unheard of for women in Roseanne’s position to have multiple spouses throughout the course of their adult life. For both working-class populations, who find the strain of managing their finances puts their relationships through the ringer, as well as for those in Hollywood, long-lasting unions are harder to come by. In a departure from her well-loved TV character, the real Roseanne has been married four times and has had five children from her various relationships.
Breaking In Blue Collar
One of the things that made Barr’s original sitcom, Roseanne, so popular was the many ways the show broke the mold. Typical sitcoms at the time featured well adjusted middle-class families who often gathered around the dinner table each night as a resolution to each episode’s problems. Instead, Roseanne was determined to depict the life of a lower-middle-class, blue-collar family, and the different struggles that were inherent to their financial situation. Furthermore, it was important that neither parent was svelte.
Attention Writer Number Seven
For all the zany stories that have come out of the original set of Roseanne, one of the strangest came from the writers’ room. Barr would say to Entertainment Weekly, “I wanted to strip them of their huge, colossal self-entitlement. ‘Hey, you’re just a cog in the wheel here! It’s not about you.’ I think they learned something from it.” Two of those writers would go on to become the creators of Gilmore Girls, where they later included a parody of the same stunt.
Artistic vision can often be hard to reconcile from person to person. Not everyone’s style is suited to one another, which often causes clashes in vision. Despite the show being based on Roseanne’s real life, she often struggled to get along with the series’ main producer, Matt Williams. Early on in the show, Barr was repeatedly threatened that she would be fired from the sitcom, but it was a young George Clooney who finally managed to neutralize the conflict.
The Jackie And Dan Show
Considering how tenuous Roseanne’s relationship was with the creative team behind her show, much consideration was given to whether or not the sitcom could proceed without its star. At one point, an episode was written without Roseanne at all, in order to see if Laurie Metcalf, who played Roseanne’s sister Jackie, and John Goodman, who played husband Dan, could carry the show themselves. The two actors, however, said they wouldn’t continue on the show without their eponymous star.
Playing Show And Tell
Barr introduced elements that were often unheard of and taboo on sitcoms in the ’80s, such as supporting and even featuring gay characters on her show. As with most plotlines that would be woven throughout the original series, Barr wanted to include these characters because both her brother and sister identify as gay. For all of her recent reputation, Roseanne was an early champion of same-sex marriage, which likely came from the exposure to her two siblings.
Four Day Break
Roseanne didn’t wait for very long before marrying her second husband, Tom Arnold. Her first marriage to Bill Pentland may have been the basis for the sitcom that made her a household name, but four days after their divorce was finalized in 1990, she would walk down the aisle again with fellow Roseanne writer and comedian, Tom Arnold. After their wedding, Roseanne even changed her last name from Barr to Arnold, but the union would only last for four years.
While most actresses keep their work life separate from their personal life, Roseanne prefers the opposite. In fact, all three of Barr’s ex-husbands have appeared on her sitcom. Bill Pentland, Roseanne’s first husband, worked for three seasons as an executive consultant, wrote two episodes, and played one of Dan’s friends in an episode. Tom Arnold, Barr’s second husband, was featured in the recurring role of Arnie Thomas. Ben Thomas, Barr’s former bodyguard and third husband was given two guest roles as a cop.
Roseanne’s Thoughts On Mind Control
Back in 2013, Roseanne made headlines for some unusual statements regarding power, censorship, and “mind control” in Hollywood. “Hollywood is the one that keeps all of this power structure,” said Barr. “They perpetuate the culture of racism, sexism, classism, genderism and keep it all in place. They continue to feed it, and they make a lot of money doing it. They do it at the behest of their masters, who run everything… it’s a culture of fear… It’s a big culture of mind control…”
Roseanne For President
In a 2011 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Roseanne Barr declared that she would be running for president of the United States in the upcoming 2012 elections on the “Green Tea Party” ticket. While her presidential aspirations were certainly ambitious, she might have bitten off a little bit more than she could chew, as she eventually came in second place, losing the nomination to Jill Stein, who then chose Cheri Honkala as her running-mate, although many suggested she choose Barr.
While in the midst of her presidential campaign, Barr participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests, where she had some eccentric suggestions on how to treat the financial situation. “I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay back anything over 100 million in personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of 100 million dollars,” said Barr. “If they’re unable to live on that amount, then they should go to the re-education camps, and if that doesn’t help, then be beheaded.”
Back To Her Roots
Despite coming up short in the 2012 elections, the always-resilient Roseanne yet again expressed political aspirations in 2018, when she spoke of her desire to move to Israel and run for Prime Minister. When Dana Weiss talked to Barr at a Jerusalem Post conference and asked her if she was actually considering running for office in Israel, Barr stated, “I do have that fantasy. If God calls me, I’ll go.” Barr continued, “I want to buy a farm there and maybe bring my family.”
A Brave Confession
In 1991, Roseanne shared some disturbing details with People magazine about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother and father while she was a child. “My mother abused me from the time I was an infant until I was six or seven years old,” Roseanne stated. “She did lots of lurid things. She hurt me psychologically and physically.” Barr went on to share the illicit and inappropriate behaviors which her father engaged in while she was a young girl.
Close to 20 years following Roseanne’s allegations against her own parents, the actress appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she expressed regret over sharing the graphic details of her childhood in such a public manner. Barr even retracted some of the harsh words she chose to use in her interview with People. “I think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done,” said Roseanne. “It’s the biggest mistake that I’ve ever made… I totally lost touch with reality in a big, big way.”
In 1991, Roseanne’s sister, Geraldine, filed a $70.3 million breach of contract lawsuit against Roseanne. The lawsuit came after Geraldine, who had served as Roseanne’s manager, was fired by her sister. According to Geraldine, Roseanne’s relationship with Tom Arnold led to her firing. Geraldine’s lawsuit claimed that Roseanne had promised her half the earnings from the sitcom thanks to her role in creating the 1981 “domestic goddess” character. In the end, nothing became of the suit.
Barr’s Battle With Mental Illness
In 1994, Barr bravely announced to the world that she has been dealing with an ongoing battle with mental illness. The actress shared that she suffers from multiple personality disorder and that she rotates through seven different inner-identities; Somebody, Nobody, Baby, Cindy, Susan, Joey, and Heather. “…I’ve learned how to get them to listen to each other now. I’ve learned how to get them to know they’re on the same team, that we occupy the same body, which we never knew before,” explained Roseanne.
Roseanne’s Return To Prime-Time
In March 2018, after two decades off the air, Roseanne Barr’s self-titled sitcom finally made its return to ABC’s prime-time lineup. With an impressive average of 21.17 million total viewers, Roseanne accomplished the unthinkable by beating out The Walking Dead to become the number one program on television. By the mid-point of the highly-anticipated 10th season, Barr’s sitcom became ABC’s first number one show in 24 years. The show’s revival was proving to be successful. Viewers couldn’t wait to see what was in store.
The Troublesome Tweet
On May 29, 2018, about two months after Roseanne’s hit sitcom finally returned to ABC after a 20-year hiatus, the actress, who has never been shy when it comes to expressing her polarizing political opinions, found herself in hot water over a tweet. Barr used her Twitter platform to make an offensive and racist statement about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who served as Barack Obama’s senior advisor throughout his presidency. Her insensitive Tweet incited anger in countless Twitter users.
The Damage Was Done
Angry Twitter users were quick to condemn Barr’s remarks as racist, and many called for a boycott on her successful ABC sitcom. Several hours after Barr sent her now-infamous tweet, she issued an apology via Twitter, writing, “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me – my joke was in bad taste.” Unfortunately for Barr, the damage had already been done.
The Reboot Gets The Boot
After the inappropriate tweet, ABC, which brought in about $45 million in a year’s worth of advertising revenue from Barr’s show, was left with no choice but to cancel Roseanne. Channing Dungey, ABC’s Entertainment President, released a statement, saying that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Robert A. Iger, Chief Executive of the Walt Disney Company, the corporate parent of ABC, took to Twitter, stating, “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
Don’t Feel Sorry For Me!
After receiving the sad news that her show had been cancelled, Roseanne Barr returned to Twitter, sharing a message that read, “Don’t feel sorry for me, guys!!-I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people, and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet.” At the end of her tweet, she added that she will be featured on Joe Rogan’s podcast at the end of the week to address any unanswered questions.
In the aftermath of the show’s cancellation, Roseanne’s co-stars expressed their disappointment with Barr’s actions. Sara Gilbert called her comments “abhorrent,” while Michael Fishman released a statement saying, “I feel devastated, not for the end of the Roseanne show, but for all those who poured their hearts and souls into our jobs, and the audience that welcomed us into their homes… The words of one person do not exemplify the thinking of all involved.” Meanwhile, Bruce Helford said that he feels “personally horrified and saddened by [Barr’s] comments.”