Some of the characters that Lily Tomlin created were showcased on the hit comedy series Laugh-In (1969-1973), the wacky series that catapulted her to stardom. She found work in films, equally terrific in dramas and comedies, including Nashville (1975), All Of Me (1984), Flirting With Disaster (1996), Shortcuts (1993) and 9 To 5 (1980). In 1985, Tomlin won a Tony Award for The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe, her one-woman Broadway show. She has been nominated for an Academy Award, and has won a Grammy Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, two Peabody Awards, and the Mark Twain Award for American Humor. Tomlin has won four Emmy Awards for Grace and Frankie opposite her good friend Jane Fonda, now streaming its seventh and final season on Netflix, plus that show also brought her three Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
I was floating on air for months after a most excellent Seattle friend of 35 years, called me on a spring morning with this Lily Tomlin anecdote. This friend has done a great deal of volunteer work for the City Park Department in Seattle. In 2002, she was co-chairing a benefit starring Tomlin and she had the opportunity to chat with the comedy icon.
I have no idea how or why my name came up, but when my Seattle friend mentioned me, Tomlin told her how funny she and her partner (now wife) Jane Wagner found my performance in the film Singles (1992). It appeared that my small role really cracked-up this remarkable couple and that they had fun imitating me doing my lines from the film. Tomlin then proceeded to do her imitation of me for my friend. I was over the moon that one of our most favorite performers of all time was doing an imitation of me. As I type this, I still think how cool that was for me.
On her album Modern Scream (1975) Tomlin jokes about straight actors who make a point of distancing themselves from their LGBTQ characters; answering the pseudo-interview question, she replies:
“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 …“
Tomlin and Wagner have been a couple since 1971.