After 9 years, 224 episodes, 4 Emmy awards, and countless other accolades, you couldn't blame Roseanne if she wanted to quietly slip away, able to take solace in the fact she single-handedly re-landscaped the medium of situational comedy forever.
Her creation and stark portrayal of "Roseanne Conner" and the Conner family on ABC's Roseanne has been hailed as "the most ground breaking kitchen-sink sitcom since All in the Family, (Entertainment Weekly)" adding, "she's the funniest disturber of peace that we have."
Roseanne helped disband the ennui which permeated on television for so many years before the show's creation and struck a place with viewers worldwide for her less-than-glamorous take on American middle-class family life. "Roseanne Conner" was not the stereotypical television mother or wife; her hair wasn't perfect all the time, the kids weren't always obedient and dinner wasn't on the table in time for her hungry husband. The Conners had real, everyday problems like paying bills, trying to raise children, all the while keeping a distant eye on their own dreams, aspirations and insecurities. As Roseanne told The New York Times (April 16, 1997), "The show was about women, gender, politics, the working class. Did I think that it would be successful? I actually did. Because I knew it was filling a void."
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and Los Angeles Times television columnist Howard Rosenberg surmised that "Roseanne was enormously influential, changing the ways viewers regarded sitcom families and their relationship to the world they portrayed," adding that the series "matured into an extension of working-class America."
Immediately after Roseanne finished its May 1997, Roseanne quite literally flew to embark on a new challenge, portraying The Wicked Witch of the West in the Madison Square Garden production of The Wizard of Oz. "She is a mixture of Othello and Ted Bundy. She's definitely a serial killer," said Roseanne describing her interpretation of The Witch.
In the fall of 1998, Roseanne hosted her own talk show for two seasons. The Roseanne Show established itself as one of the most successful launches of a syndicated, not only domestically, but in thirty foreign countries. The Village Voice praised the show and that "art students will be watching for decades."
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Roseanne knew by age three that she was going to be a comic and have her own show. She would entertain her family on Friday evenings when they would gather in her grandmother's apartment for Sabbath dinner. The reaction she received convinced her she was indeed the Center of the Universe, which she still believes to this day.
Roseanne produced, wrote, directed and starred in annual neighborhood plays and shows at the Junior High School. She felt fulfilled until she suddenly realized at age 16 she was still living in Utah. By the time she was 18, she had moved to the mountains of Colorado and lived in an artists' colony. In 1976, Roseanne became a part-time member of the work force. She was employed as a window dresser and then as a cocktail waitress. Her customers told her that she should go downtown to perform at the comedy club because she was incredibly funny.
Roseanne did, and carried it further. She made the rounds of local comedy clubs. By 1983, she had become known as the Queen of Denver Comedy. Soon, Los Angeles friends, Louie Anderson and Sam Kenison, encouraged her to audition for Mitzi Shore at the Comedy Store. She did and was instantly hired and that same night was asked to appear on George Schlatter's ABC-TV special, Funny. While she was rehearsing, talent scout, Jim McCawley from The Tonight Show approached her and exclaimed, "Roseanne: I love you!" She thought he was an adoring fan, but then told her who he was and put her, almost immediately, on The Tonight Show.
Roseanne debuted on ABC on October 18, 1988 and within a year overtook The Cosby Show as the #1 show on television, cementing her place as the reigning queen of prime time. The show has gone onto become an internationally syndicated hit seen in over 150 countries worldwide.
Roseanne's autobiographies, "Roseanne: My Life as a Woman" and "My Lives" (published in 1994) also established her as a best-selling author.
Roseanne also served as the executive producer of Saturday Night Special, a late-night, cutting edge variety show for FOX-TV. The series, described as "SNL meets MTV", premiered in April 1996. It featured outrageous comedy antics, some of the most exciting musicals acts in the world, innovative short films and off-the-wall novelty acts.
In 1993, Roseanne was awarded an Emmy as Best Actress in a Comedy Series, the first of many major awards bestowed on the comedienne. She was also named Best Actress in a Comedy Series at the American Television Awards, received two Golden Globe Awards for Roseanne as well as six People's Choice Awards, two American Comedy Awards and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award in 1990 in recognition of her contribution to the world of television. The series was honored with a Peabody Award, one of the most prestigious awards in broadcasting. Roseanne was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Award given by the American Democratic Association to outstanding American women. She has also received two Humanitas Awards presented to programming that most truly communicates human values to their audience. Roseanne was honored with The Jack Benny Award, and was the second woman ever to be roasted by the Friars Club.
Roseanne received the Lucy Award which is presented annually by Women in Film and named after Lucille Ball, and was among the recipients of the 1997 American Comedy Honors. In November 1998, she participated in the State of the World Forum at San Francisco's Masonic Temple where she moderated a panel in front of 2,000 people with the theme Rising from the Ashes. The participants consisted of young people from around the world who have been victims of war and political oppression.
Roseanne recently returned to her roots and began touring select cities in the U.S. and U.K. with her hilarious one woman show. Her performance, featuring all new material, received standing ovations at her recent engagement in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that it seemed "like friends who hadn't seen each other in many years, Roseanne Barr and 1,000 of her fans took a few minutes to take each other's measure last Saturday night ... after that, it was like a rowdy, free-for-all homecoming weekend".
In 2004, Roseanne costarred in the Disney film, Home on the Range with Judi Dench and Jennifer Tilly. This year marked the long awaited release of her hit sitcom Roseanne on DVD. Recently the New York Times claimed "Roseanne's greatest asset is her gravitational pull, a force that enchants while holding things, and people, at a comfortable distance. It is the power of a whole planet, pulling everything around it inexorably into its orbit."
Roseanne became a Grandma four years ago and her life hasn't been the same since. For the past two of those years she's been learning and navigating the ins-and-outs of becoming a for-real recording artist. Working diligently, Roseanne completed twelve children's songs (nine are brand new and original) and produced the accompanying videos in her cozy, family-run and kid-friendly Full Moon and High Tide Studio and released her first DVD for children entitled Rockin' with Roseanne: Calling All Kids! which hit stores nationwide February 7, 2006.
Roseanne is actively involved in her production company and enjoys the opportunity to work with her family. FMHT recently signed a deal to produce original programming for VH1 and just completed production on Roseanne's upcoming comedy special, Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin', which will air November 4, 2006 on HBO.