Roseanne Barr, 69, shot to fame after starring in the classic sitcom Roseanne, which aired between 1988 and 1997.
As the brutally honest Roseanne Conner, her character was the star of the series. The sitcom offered a realistic and wonderful portrayal of the typical, working-class American family, and was widely loved as a result.
Despite Roseanne’s dominating persona, her character appeared as a loving mother, grandmother, and wife.
But before she became an Award-winning actress, Roseanne Barr suffered hardships, and had to make a decision no mother should be forced to…
Roseanne Cherrie Barras was born on November 3, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah. She grew up in a poor Jewish family which had Russian roots; her mother was a bookkeeper, and her father a salesman.
Under different circumstances, Roseanne could possibly have ended up with Borisofsky as her last name, but her paternal grandfather decided to change his surname to ”Barr” after he entered the United States.
Roseanne’s upbringing was very much influenced by her Jewish heritage – her Orthodox Jewish maternal grandmother was a strong woman whom everyone in the family had great respect for.
Growing up, Roseanne’s parents desired to keep a low profile, and kept their Jewish ties a secret from neighbors and friends. As a result, the family got involved in the local Mormon Church.
”Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons,” Barr said.
As a Jewish outcast in the strict Mormon society of Salt Lake City, Roseanne’s life story was one of drama and challenges.
”You weren’t supposed to think there. First of all it was frowned upon to be a girl, and second of all to be a fat, dark-haired girl who had no waist, and third to be a loudmouthed, short, fat, dark girl,” Roseanne told The Guardian in 2008.
When she was only three years old, she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, also known as “acute facial palsy of unknown cause.” Roseanne’s facial paralysis resulted in a temporary inability to control her facial muscles on the left side of her face.
“My mother called in a rabbi to pray for me, but nothing happened. Then my mother got a Mormon preacher, he prayed, and I was miraculously cured,” Roseanne told the Jewish Journal in 2006.
Roseanne, who says she’s also on the autism spectrum, was involved in another traumatic event when she was 16. After being hit by a car, she suffered a traumatic brain injury that would affect her life for a long time. The brain injury was severe, and Roseanne’s behavior changed so much that she spent months at a psychiatric hospital.
When Hollywood’s anti-celebrity spoke with reporters in 2006, she said that she still suffers from the effects from time to time.
Road to fame
As her family’s after-dinner entertainer, Roseanne had a knack for making jokes and getting people to laugh. She says she owes her comedic vein to her father.
As a 6-year-old, Roseanne started to “perform” on public stages when she was elected president of a Mormon youth group, and lectured at churches around Utah. Upon turning 18, Roseanne left her parents’ home and moved to Colorado. She said that she was only going to visit a friend, but Roseanne never returned.
During the early ’80s, she took ”every minimum wage job you could get” in Colorado. Only, the outspoken Roseanne always got fired for talking back to her bosses. However, her life would change completely while she worked as a rude cocktail waitress who made harsh jokes to everyone at the bar.
The cast of Roseanne, (l-r) Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson, pose backstage after winning the 1989 People’s Choice Award for best TV Comedy in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
”My customers encouraged me to go down to this comedy club. I didn’t know it was there. So I went down there and watched everybody,” Barr told Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
A year later, she had put together five minutes of her own material and traveled to California. After a successful performance at the famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles, she was discovered by comedy producer George Schlatter. After that, she landed a gig on The Tonight Show in 1985, and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1986.
Roseanne burst into the male-dominated standup-comic world with her hilarious acts; she was often seen joking about her seemingly worthless husband.
During her breakthrough, she became strongly associated with the phrase ”Domestic Goddess”, referring to a housewife. Her humor often had a working-class edge, and in 1987 she revealed where she had gotten her inspiration from.
”It’s all personal experience. I’m not an actress. I’m not Meryl Streep. I don’t go up there and invent all this stuff. It has to come from what you really feel and believe, or else it’s not real. And if it’s not real, people don’t think it’s funny,” she told Forth-Worth Star-Telegram.
Furious after the first episode
In the late 1980s, Barr rose to megastar after portraying Roseanne Conner in ABC’s sitcom Roseanne. The idea for the popular series came when the producers of The Cosby Show wanted to do “no-perks family comedy.” They hired writer Matt Williams, and he based the script on some factory workers and the story evolved around a fat, blue-collar couple and their children.
When Roseanne premiered in 1998, the first episode was watched by 21 million households – the best debut that year.
But the main character was not happy when she saw the first episode. In fact, she was pretty pissed. For it was then that Roseanne discovered that writer Matt Williams had been credited as the “creator” of the entire series.
She reacted immediately.
“We built the show around my actual life and my kids. The ‘domestic goddess’, the whole thing,” Barr said.
The conflict with Williams would rage on for several years. Roseanne wanted more control over the script – sometimes, she refused to say certain lines; other times she just walked off stage. It went so far that Roseanne threatened to quit if Williams was not replaced.
Since Barr was the show’s big star, she eventually got what she wanted. Other writers replaced Williams after the thirteenth episode.
Perhaps it was the right decision. After all, Roseanne was a real success, and would go on to last for nine seasons. In addition, Barr won several awards, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
There were even rumors of a spinoff when the series ended, but that never materialized. Instead, Barr started hosting her own talk show – though that didn’t last long. After only two seasons, the project was scrapped.
Roseanne Barr singing the ”The Star-Spangled Banner”
After several failed projects, Roseanne slowly disappeared from the TV screen, and endured some further setbacks. Around this time, the comedian didn’t have the best reputation either. Her scandal-ridden behavior during a baseball game, when Roseanne sang ”The Star-Spangled Banner” in a disrespectful manner, caused a particular stir.
While performing the anthem in front of 27,000 fans, Roseanne all of a sudden grabbed her groin and spat. Baseball fans and sportswriters went through the roof; then-President George H. W. Bush called it ”disgraceful.
”I’m not going to apologize for doing it, because I feel like it was the wrong choice for all of us to make. But not anybody anticipated (the reaction) would be this negative . . . You can all take this as fun or you can act like this is the worst thing committed by an American. I went down there with the best intentions. We thought it would be a fun, positive thing . . . I’m sorry I didn’t sing so good. How much more can I say?” Roseanne responded.
Roseanne, who built her career on provocation, later claimed that there was a problem with the public-address system during the baseball game. Therefore, she was forced to sing as loudly as possible to hear herself.
Roseanne Barr weight loss
Over the course of her whole life, Roseanne Barr has struggled with her weight. The actress reportedly hit 350 pounds while entertaining millions on her sitcom Roseanne. In 1998, she underwent gastric bypass surgery.
”I had a huge overhang and I had it taken off. It was a little more than a tuck,” she told People.
Roseanne has always been very open about her weight-loss journey, but it hasn’t been an easy ride. Fortunately, her decision to go under the knife helped her lose 80 pounds.
“I had my entire digestive system removed, so I should look thinner,” she joked in 2007.
As time went on following her gastric bypass, Roseanne began to put on weight again. She couldn’t find a way to stay fit, and said that she felt ”fat” but “great”. By 2014, though, she appeared to have got things under control.
During a press conference where she looked slimmer than ever, she revealed that she had discovered the secret to a healthier life …
“Crack!! I’m doing crack,” she joked with US Weekly
”But seriously…”I’m just doing the things you’re supposed to do…you know, moving more, and eating less.”
A few months later, in 2014, Roseanne once again stated that she had found the key to a healthier life, calling her new diet ”radical and revolutionary”.
“I went on a new diet. It’s radical and revolutionary. It’s where you eat less and move more—you know, just simple. I just want to keep getting healthy and let go of excess baggage to carry around, so I’m lighter on my feet and in my life.”
In the mid-90s, Roseanne also underwent breast reduction, a tummy tuck, and a nose job. During this period, the award winning-actress was in “a horribly dysfunctional relationship” with comedian Tom Arnold. The plastic surgeries – and everything that came with it – became an escape for her.
”I think that’s why I had all that surgery. Every time I had a break I would have surgery. I think just to get away from him [Arnold] and then when I came back there’d be nurses in the house and I wouldn’t be alone with him,” Roseanne told The Guardian.
In 2019, Roseanne revealed that she was unhappy with her butt, and wanted to do something about it.
“I have a thing for butts because I never had a butt my whole life and I’ve always felt deprived,” she told DailyMailTV. “When I see these Kardashians and these young women … think, ‘Maybe I could get a butt like that.’”
Once again, Roseanne picked up the phone and called the plastic surgeon.
“I did have one procedure where I got the fat sucked out of my stomach and put in my butt because I just wanted to see what it would be like to have some shape of my butt,” Barr explained.
Pregnant at 18
Roseanne has tied the knot three times in her life, and has five children.
In 1970, when she was 18, Roseanne fell pregnant for the first time. She knew she wanted to keep the child, but her circumstances made it difficult; she was unmarried, had no job, and had no partner. Not only that, but she was on welfare, and living in a bug-infested room that she rented for $50 a month.
In addition, Roseanne’s own family were not particularly interested in helping, so she moved to Denver. There, Roseanne moved into a home for single moms in Colorado, run by the Salvation Army.
Just nine days after arriving in Denver, she went to the hospital to give birth to her daughter, Brandi Ann Brown. She was born on May 16, 1971, though baby girl did not get much time with her mother.
Shortly after the birth, Roseanne took the extremely tough decision to give her daughter up for adoption. Brandi went to a Jewish family where she was showered with love – her adoptive parents had reportedly waited almost ten years to have a baby.
Roseanne was obviously heartbroken about being separated from her daughter, but she knew she would see Brandi again someday.
When the time came to give away her newborn daughter, she whispered one thing in Brandi’s ear:
”You remember this. I’ll see you when you are 18.”
Husband and children
After the traumatic adoption process, Roseanne continued with her own life. She would find love again when she married her first husband, Bill Pentland.
The couple first met in 1972 in Utah, and together raised three children; Jessica, Jake and Jennifer.
When Roseanne broke through as a stand-up comedian, she often drew her inspiration from Bill, her first husband. She could be quite harsh and ruthless towards her husband when she was on stage, but he was said to be a very lovely and caring partner.
Bill was very supportive, and even wrote some jokes for Roseanne. He also helped create his wife’s on-stage persona.
But as Roseanne became an increasingly public figure, her marriage deteriorated. After 16 years together, the couple went their separate ways.
Just four days after the divorce was finalized, Roseanne married Tom Arnold, also a comedian.
Around the same time, Roseanne got a phone call that changed everything.
”A tabloid called to tell me, “We found your daughter.” I was stunned.
“They had gotten hold of the birth certificate of the baby girl I bore out of wedlock and gave up for adoption after nine days in Denver when I was 18. I was so pissed off. I had left information allowing her to find me when she turned 21. I had even told my own kids about the adoption a year earlier because I knew she was 17 and might try to find me,” Roseanne told People.
Roseanne decided to hire a private investigator to track down her daughter before she might stumble upon the information concerning her famous mom in the magazines.
Roseanne managed to get hold of her daughter, and the couple who adopted Brandi. Finally, one month after the call from the tabloid, the mother and daughter reunited at the Westwood Marquis Hotel.
It was a very emotional meeting.
”We looked at each other, and we started running toward each other. We embraced and wouldn’t let go of each other, hugging and crying,” Roseanne said.
Roseanne divorced Tom Arnold in 1994, and married Ben Thomas, her personal bodyguard, one year later. Together, they had a son named Buck, after Roseanne became pregnant through in vitro fertilization.
Roseanne and Ben split up in 2002. Today, Roseanne lives with Johnny Argent, a writer and producer from Maryland. They started dating after a writing competition on her blog. Today, the couple spends most of their time at her 2,212-square-foot farm in Hawaii.
”My boyfriend and I are kindred spirits. He is feminine in a way. When he used to write for me he lived in the desert. He was like a hermit just with his books,” Roseanne told The Guardian.
Roseanne Barr net worth, salary
At the height of her career, only one woman earned more than Roseanne: Oprah Winfrey. For the final two seasons of Roseanne, she received a paycheck of $40 million, making her the second-highest paid woman in the industry.
And it seems that Roseanne has secured her income for a long time, especially since she earned so much on Roseanne. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Roseanne Barr is currently worth $80 million.
She has spent some of her millions on real estate: some investments have been successful, others not so.
When Roseanne bought her ranch-inspired house on Hawaii in 2007, she payed $1.78 million for the property. It’s known as the Hidden Hamakua Farm, and includes 2,000 macadamia nut trees, an organic garden, and a beehive.
Rosanne Barr has undoubtedly been through a lot in her life; I never knew she gave up her first daughter for adoption. She’s always been controversial, but it’s impossible to deny the tremendous impact she has had on the TV industry and the comedy sector in general!
Looking at photos of her today, she seems to live a very healthy and happy life – she’s definitely not battling her weight, and it feels like she’s found peace and harmony.