Things You Didn’t Know About Roseanne BarrPublished on January 24, 2018. Updated October 2, 2019
Roseanne Barr has been in the entertainment industry for decades and has become one of the most loved and most controversial stars out there. From her comedy to her everyday life, there is never any telling exactly what she is going to say or do and a surprise seems to be around every corner for the star. While she has lived her life in the spotlight for quite some time, there is a still a lot that many don’t know about her! Check out 12 things you probably didn’t know about Roseanne Barr:
12. Beginning Her Career
At 18, Barr left home by telling her parents she was going to visit a friend in Colorado for a few weeks, but actually never returned home. While in Colorado, she pursued her comedy dream and began doing small stand-up shows at local bars. It didn’t take long for her “domestic goddess” routine to become one of the most popular stand-up comedian gigs around and she soon caught the interest of many others in the industry. Her career really took off in 1985 after she made her first appearance on The Tonight Show, the following year she appeared on Late Night With David Letterman and was promptly awarded the American Comedy Award for funniest female performer in a television special.
11. Tumultuous Relationship with Her Parents
Although she officially left home at 18, Roseanne Barr has opened up about the difficult childhood and tumultuous relationship that she had with her parents. Back in 1991, she shocked everyone however when she appeared at the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver and announced, “My name is Roseanne, and I am an incest survivor.” The event was organized by the Survivors United Network and it was a shock for the star to be there and come forward with her story. She gave a 30-minute speech in which she said she had been sexually abused during her childhood but repressed the memories until an incident triggered them to come back. After extensive therapy, the star said, ‘This is the truth I unraveled: My mother abused me from the time I was an infant until I was 6 or 7 years old. She did lots of lurid things. She hurt me psychologically and physically.” She added, “My father molested me until I left home at age 17. He constantly put his hands all over me. He forced me to sit on his lap, to cuddle with him, to play with his penis in the bathtub. He did grotesque and disgusting things: He used to chase me with his excrement and try to put it on my head. He’d lie on the floor playing with himself. It was the most disgusting thing you can ever imagine.” In 2011, Roseanne and her sister, Geraldine, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Roseanne retracted much of what she said about her parents’ abuse of her as a child. She said that the word “incest” was not the correct term to use and admitted she should have waited until she was done therapy to come forward with her story. “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 told Oprah. After she went forward with her story, she and her sister did not speak for 12 years, but later reconciled, although Roseanne added not everything she said was “made up.” “Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification.”
10. Early Life
Roseanne Cherrie Barr was born on November 3, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah to Helen and Jerome Hershel “Jerry” Barr. Roseanne was the oldest of four children born to her parents and all of them were raised Jewish being heavily influenced by their devoutly Orthodox Jewish maternal grandmother. Her parents kept their Jewish heritage a secret, however, and after a “miracle” concerning Roseanne’s health, she and her mother participated in the Mormon beliefs of their neighbors as well. When Roseanne was three or four part of her face became paralyzed (in what would later be discovered as Bell’s Palsy) but at the time her mother didn’t know what the problem was and called the rabbi to pray for her. After the rabbi’s prayers didn’t work, her mother called the Mormon priests, and only one day later she was “healed.” “When my face became healed, Mother (never having lived anywhere on earth but Salt Lake City) accepted it as a sign from God that the Mormon faith was the one true religion on the face of the earth, and that she and I should join it,” Roseanne revealed. “But she was afraid of the wrath of her own mother, and so there was a compromise. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons.”
9. Devastating Car Accident
After a troubled childhood, tragedy literally struck Roseanne when she was 16. While walking to school one morning, both Roseanne and her friend were hit by a car after they stepped on the road to cross the street. Both girls were hit but Roseanne ended up being thrown in the air, cracking her skull and was then dragged 30 feet by the car. Her severe injuries meant extensive surgeries and healing while in the hospital, but her it was her brain injury that caused her severe trauma, and after she began not being able to sleep, forgetting things, and suffering from convulsions, her parents had her institutionalized. “After I went nuts, I went to the Utah State Hospital for almost a year. How do you really try to write about a time in your life when you were crazy, nuts, out of it, lost?” Roseanne wrote. She ended up spending eight months in the institution which she dubbed “the nuthouse” with weekend visits home, and upon her release returned to high school but dropped out almost immediately.
8. First Daughter
While Roseanne Barr has always been one of the most open, honest and real women in entertainment, for some time there was a part of her life that she hid. On May 16, 1971, at 18 years old, Roseanne welcomed her first child, Brandi, who she put up for adoption. “At first, [during pregnancy] I wanted to keep the baby. I got on welfare and rented a room for 50 bucks a month. I turned on the water, and cockroaches came out of the spigot. Outside, there were drunks. I just couldn’t go on there, so I went away to Denver and moved into a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers. My family wasn’t too supportive. I gave my baby up to the Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Denver. They said they had a couple that had waited seven years for a Jewish baby.” Brandi was adopted by Stanley and Gail Brown, who happened to be close to Roseanne’s mother. “What was really weird was that Gail Brown’s mother’s best friend is my mother’s best friend. It was a small Jewish community between Salt Lake and Denver, and everyone had known about the Browns adopting a little girl out of Denver. They were friends with a lot of my family, but nobody ever put it together,” Roseanne said in a 1989 interview. The two were reunited in the late ’80s, and Brandi even went on to work on the set of Roseanne for some time.
7. Time in Colorado
In the years between leaving her parents’ house for Colorado and launching her comedy career, Roseanne became a wife and a mother. After leaving home at only 18 by telling her parents she was going to visit her friend Linda in Colorado, life came at Roseanne faster than ever. The very day she arrived in Colorado, she met a “cute” guy who worked at the Motor Inn and a few days later went to a bar with him and discovered his name was Bill Pentland. “I had fallen madly, passionately in love with someone who had to be home all night long, because he was a night clerk, and if he screwed up his job, he would be homeless…what a perfect setting for romance…a man, almost a captive, who could not leave me. Well, it was just too highly erotic for yours truly,” she wrote. The two began an “intense affair” and were very on-again, off-again, but eventually, on February 4, 1974, they were married, and the next year they welcomed a daughter, Jessica. Roseanne admitted that for a time she was “the Queen of Barefoot and Pregnant,” and from 1975 to 1978 they welcomed all three of their children Jessica, Jennifer and Jake, but it was in that time Roseanne discovered her passion for storytelling and comedy and by 1980 was ready to jump into her career, not knowing the stardom she was about to embark on or the effect it would have on her family.
6. Launching Roseanne
In the span of only a few years, Roseanne Barr went from mother and housewife to struggling comic to selling out shows and not long after came the idea for a show. “I wanted a TV show. I told my agent I didn’t want to be on the road anymore. It took many meetings with many producers. I decided to go with executive producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner because they had the top two series—Cosby and A Different World—and I thought they knew how to make a show out of a stand-up act,” she revealed of taking the steps to TV. Unfortunately, getting Roseanne off the ground was not as easy as it may have seemed, especially when it came to the contention between Barr and the show’s creator, writer, and third executive producer, Matt Williams. “I felt like a stranger in a strange land, which I suppose is Hollywood. I didn’t know until I saw the pilot that only his name was on it [as the show’s creator]. They had told me it was a collaboration. I freaked. I fired my lawyers. Fired my agents. Everybody. Then Matt tried to get me fired.” Finally, after the first season, Roseanne threatened to quit so Matt Williams was fired, and two weeks later the show went to No.1.
All Roseanne fans know that the show was extremely groundbreaking and progressive during its nine seasons run from 1988 to 1997, especially when it came to social issues like sexuality, domestic violence, and racism. When Roseanne introduced gay characters including Nancy Bartlett and Marla, and Leon and Scott, and in the end Jackie, it did so in a way many other sitcoms hadn’t dared to, and it was all thanks to Roseanne’s personal life. While Barr herself isn’t gay, both her sister, Geraldine, and their brother, Ben, are gay and inspired her to include gay characters on her show.
4. Writing a Tell-All
In 1989, Roseanne released her very first memoir “My Life as a Woman” and it was explosive. She detailed things from her life fans had no idea about and didn’t hold back on how her marriage from Bill Pentland fell apart and her romance with Tom Arnold began, but almost 30 years late, fans want more. Over the years, Roseanne and others have shared what really went on behind the scenes of the hit show, and we might get more with another book from Barr. “Right now, I’m flirting with writing a real book about those times. I always flirt with it,” she said in a 2016 interview. “There’s a real danger in being an outspoken person. It’s a real risk, so I have to think carefully about it.”
3. That One Year
In 1989, after the release of her memoir “My Life as a Woman” Roseanne was the cover star for People magazine where she looked back on the intense and at times scary year in which her marriage came to an end, the first season of Roseanne aired, and her romance with Tom Arnold went public. “This has been the hardest year I ever lived through,” she said. “I lost my marriage, my children got very messed up. Then in a three-month period I ended up with a new man, a new daughter, a new house. But I almost died. It was just so insane—all the behind-the-scenes s—t around the show. That’s why I’ve never talked about it before. It was just too insane.”
2. Personal Life
Roseanne Barr has had a lot of ups and downs in her life and relationships over the years. In 1974, before fame, she married Bill Pentland, and after three children together, the two also took on stardom as Bill worked on the first season of Roseanne with his wife, but that same year their marriage fell apart and they were divorced in 1990. Four days after her divorce from Pentland, Barr married her longtime friend and fellow actor Tom Arnold and admitted before their relationship she, Tom and Bill worked together on the show. “Tom and me partied together and became best buddies. Tom was Bill’s best buddy too. Tom is incredibly funny,” she said. After only four years of marriage, Barr filed for divorce from Arnold on April 18, 1994, and the next year on Valentine’s Day in 1995 Barr married her former security guard Ben Thomas and together they welcomed a son Buck before divorcing in 2002. Shortly after her split from Thomas, Barr met Johnny Argent online and began dating him in 2003. While the pair has never married, they have stayed together and lived on a large macadamia nut farm on the Big Island of Hawaii.
1. Net Worth
Despite being at times controversial and also polarizing, Barr’s success has been incredible. After getting by on a comedy career, it was the Roseanne series which brought her an estimated $40 million. From her profits from the show along with her work as an author, producer, writer, director and more, she now has an estimated net worth of a whopping $80 million!