Roseanne Cherrie Barr (born November 3, 1952) is an American actress, comedian, writer, television producer, director, and 2012 presidential nominee of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party. Barr began her career in stand-up comedy at clubs before gaining fame for her role in the sitcom Roseanne. The show was a hit and lasted nine seasons, from 1988 to 1997. She won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the show. Barr had crafted a “fierce working-class domestic goddess” persona in the eight years preceding her sitcom and wanted to do a realistic show about a strong mother who was not a victim of patriarchal consumerism.
The granddaughter of immigrants from Europe and Russia, Barr was the oldest of four children in a working-class Jewish Salt Lake City family; she was also active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 1974, she married Bill Pentland, with whom she had three children, before divorcing in 1990 and marrying comedian Tom Arnold for four years. Controversy arose when she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” off-key at a 1990 nationally aired baseball game, followed by grabbing her crotch and spitting.
After her sitcom ended, she launched her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, which aired from 1998 to 2000. In 2005, she returned to stand-up comedy with a world tour. In 2011, she starred in an unscripted TV show, Roseanne’s Nuts, that lasted from July to September of that year, about her life on a Hawaiian farm.
In early 2012, Barr announced her candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Green Party. Barr lost the nomination to Jill Stein. She then sought the presidential nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party, which she won on August 4, 2012. Barr received 61,971 votes in the general election, placing sixth overall.
Barr was born in Salt Lake City, to a working-class Jewish family. She is the oldest of four children born to Helen (née Davis), a bookkeeper and cashier, and Jerome Hershel “Jerry” Barr, who worked as a salesman. Her father’s family were Jewish immigrants from Russia, and her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary and Lithuania, respectiveHer Her paternal grandfather changed his surname from “Borisofsky” to “Barr” upon entering the United States.
Her Jewish upbringing was influenced by her devoutly Orthodox Jewish maternal grandmother. Barr’s parents kept their Jewish heritage secret from their neighbors and were partially involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Barr has stated, “Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons”. When Barr was three years old, she got Bell’s palsy on the left side of her face. Barr said, ” 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”. Years later Barr learned that Bell’s palsy was usually temporary and that the Mormon preacher came “exactly at the right time”. At six years old, Barr discovered her first public stage by lecturing at LDS churches around Utah and even was elected president of a Mormon youth group.
At 16, Barr was hit by a car that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her behavior changed so radically that she was institutionalized for eight months at Utah State Hospital. In 1970, when Barr was 18 years old, she moved out by informing her parents she was going to visit a friend in Colorado for two weeks, but never returned.
In 1970, when she was 17, Barr had a child whom she placed for adoption; they were later reunited. On February 4, 1974, Barr married Bill Pentland, a motel clerk she met while in Colorado. They had three children: Jessica, Jennifer, Pentland and Barr divorced on January 16, 1990. Four days later, on January 20, 1990, Barr married fellow comedian Tom Arnold and became known as Roseanne Arnold during the marriage. Barr had met Arnold in 1983 in Minneapolis, where he opened for her stand-up comedy act. In 1988, Barr brought Arnold onto her sitcom, Roseanne, as a writer.
Barr has a lesbian sister, Geraldine Barr, and a gay brother, Ben Barr, both of whom inspired her to introduce gay characters into her sit. Barr has stated that she supports gay marriage. Geraldine was also Barr’s manager while performing in comedy clubs and at the start of her sitcom. Geraldine claimed that Arnold tried to dominate Barr “for his own reasons”. After being fired by Roseanne, Geraldine filed a $70.3 million breach of contract lawsuit in Superior Court of Los Angeles County on December 18, 1991. She said Barr promised her half the earnings from the Roseanne show for helping invent the “domestic goddess” character in 1981, serving as “writer, organizer, accountant, bookkeeper and confidante”. Since it was six months past the statute of limitations, the suit was thrown out.
In a 1991 interview with People, Barr described herself as an “incest survivor”, accusing both of her parents of physical and sexual abuse, claims which they and Geraldine publicly denied. Melvin Belli, her parents’ lawyer, said that they had passed a lie detector test “with flying colors”. Barr was even part of an incest recovery group, something she said her parents knew about but for which they were “in denial”. On February 14, 2011, Barr and Geraldine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Barr admitted that the word “incest” could have been the wrong word to use and should have waited until her therapy was over before revealing the “darkest time” in her life. She told Oprah, “I was in a very unhappy relationship and I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs… to deal with the fact that I had some mental illness… I totally lost touch with reality… (and) I didn’t know what the truth was… I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family”. She added that not everything was “made up”, saying, “Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification”. Geraldine said they did not speak for 12 years, but had recently reconciled.
Barr filed for divorce from Tom Arnold on April 18, 1994 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, citing irreconcilable differences. Their efforts to have children were unsuccessful. On February 14, 1995, Barr married Ben Thomas, her one-time personal security guard, at Caesars Tahoe with a reception at Planet Hollywood. In November 1994, she became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization and they had a son named Buck. The couple stayed together until 2002.
In the mid-1990s, Barr had multiple cosmetic surgeries performed, such as a breast reduction, tummy tuck, and a nose job. During the late 1990s she had gastric bypass surgery.
In 2002, Barr met Johnny Argent online after running a writing competition on her blog and began dating him in 2003, after a year of phone conversations. They live on a 46-acre macadamia nut farm located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Barr purchased the property in 2007 for $1.78 million. Barr has studied Kabbalah at the Kabbalah Centre and frequently comments on the discipline.
In 2015, Barr revealed she has been diagnosed with both macular degeneration and glaucoma, and thus is gradually losing her eyesight and expects to eventually go blind; she is consuming medical marijuana to fight the raised intraocular pressure that is a feature of these diseases.