Actress, comedian, writer and political activist Roseanne Barr was born in 1952 to a working class Jewish family in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a child, Barr would join her father in front of the television, engrossed in the variety show standup comedy of the 1950s. Neither could predict that these hours of father-daughter bonding would lead to a successful career.
“My father wanted to be a standup comic himself,” explained Roseanne. “He understood comedy like almost nobody else I’ve ever met since. We’d listen to Lenny Bruce and my dad would tell me, ‘Look at him fighting! Look at this freedom fighter.’”
By her mid 20s, Barr was a married mother of three, waiting tables at a chain restaurant in Denver and struggling to pay the bills. It was there that she first approached an open mic night at a local club and signed up to tell a few jokes on stage. As soon as she received her first laugh, she knew comedy was the business for her.
Barr went on to make waves on television with her hit sitcom, Roseanne, a family comedy following the Conners of Lanford, Illinois. For Barr, the television show was more than entertainment – it was a platform for spreading social change. More than any other primetime show of its time, Roseanne dealt head on with difficult issues, including puberty, homosexuality, domestic abuse, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, divorce and poverty, and worked through these problems with familial love and ample humor.
Roseanne & Politics
As an entertainer, Roseanne Barr never hid her activist agenda. Her self-proclaimed identity as a working class feminist undeniably played a guiding role throughout her prolific TV and movie career. Reflecting on Roseanne‘s success, Barr remarked, “I wanted to tear down some walls and make some roads bigger and move the center left, and I did.”
In 2012, Roseanne ran for President of the United States on California’s Peace & Freedom Party ticket. Barr, who continues to perform standup on stage and screen, placed 6th overall, garnering over 60,000 votes and seizing upon yet another platform to express her views.