Oh, You Thought You Knew Roseanne?


Of course you know that name, it’s THE name. The insanely popular show of that very same moniker ran for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997. But there’s SO MUCH more. After Roseanne, her life diversified in unimaginable ways, shaping the image of her Domestic Goddess persona into a charmingly and relatably flawed demideity.

The Roots Of The Legend

Barr was born Jewish in Salt Lake City, but Barr’s family kept their Jewishness a secret and got involved with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When she was three, Barr was stricken with Bell’s Palsy. Her mother invited a Rabbi to pray for her daughter, and nothing. She then invited a Mormon preacher to pray for Barr and her daughter swiftly recovered. Barr later learned that Bell’s Palsy was usually temporary and that the Mormon preacher’s success was incidental.


Early Personal Life

At 16, Barr was hit by a car that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Her behavior changed so drastically that she was institutionalized at Utah State Hospital. At 18 she had a baby, which she gave up for adoption (they reunited 20 years later). On February 4, 1974, Barr married Bill Pentland, with whom she had three children: Jessica, Jennifer, and Jake. Pentland and Barr divorced on January 16, 1990. Four days later, Barr married comedian Tom Arnold and took his last name for the duration of the marriage. In 1988, Barr brought Arnold onto her sitcom, Roseanne, as a writer. The relationship was (and sometimes still is) notoriously scandalous and they divorced in 1994, but not before doing this shoot for Vanity Fair.


Roseanne Breaks Ground And Catapults Careers

Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997, winning Barre multiple awards for her role as Roseanne Conner. The last two seasons alone earned Barr $40 million, putting her in the second place spot of highest paid women in show business at that time, topped only by Oprah Winfrey. Amy Sherman-Palladino and Joss Whedon got their first writing jobs on the sitcom, and brought some then-controversial topics into the mainstream, putting gay characters and strong women into the spotlight. Author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich said Barr represented “the hopeless underclass of the female sex: polyester-clad, overweight occupants of the slow track; fast-food waitresses, factory workers, housewives, members of the invisible pink-collar army; the despised, the jilted, the underpaid.”


The World Wasn’t Ready For Nuts

In January 2011, Barr released her third book, Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm. That same year, she appeared, in 2011, on a Super Bowl XLV commercial for Snickers along with comedian Richard Lewis. It was the most popular ad. In July 2011, Lifetime broadcasted a reality series, Roseanne’s Nuts, which followed Barr, then-boyfriend Johnny Argent, and son, Jake, as they ran a macadamia nut and livestock farm on the Big Island, Hawaii; it was cancelled later in that year.


Despite Involvement In Politics, Loves A Good Scandal

First, let’s address that baseball game. Barr was invited to sing the National Anthem, which she absolutely did. In her own voice. And then grabbed her crotch and spat. *crowd gasps* Her rendition received heavy media attention and offended many, including President George H. W. Bush, who called her rendition “disgraceful.” Then there was that bold move in 2012 after the George Zimmerman trial, which came about when, after being found not-guilty of manslaughter in the Trayvon Martin case, Roseanne tweeted his parents’ home address. In 2014, Zimmerman’s parents filed a lawsuit seeking $15,000 for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. In 2015, the court ruled in favor of Barr.