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Laugh-In, Murphy Brown, The West Wing
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Producer
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Mary Jean "Lily" Tomlin (born September 1, 1939) is an American actress, comedian, writer, and producer. Tomlin has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s when she began a career as a stand up comedian and became a featured performer on television's Laugh-in. Her career has spanned television, comedy recordings, Broadway, and motion pictures, enjoying acclaimed success in each medium. She has starred in such films as Nashville, 9 to 5, All of Me, The Beverly Hillbillies, Orange County, and I Heart Huckabees. Her notable television roles include Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In as a cast member from 1970–73, Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus, Kay Carter-Shepley on Murphy Brown, Deborah Fiderer on The West Wing, Lillie Mae MacKenzie on Malibu Country.
Tomlin was born in Westerly, Rhode Island, the daughter of Lillie Mae (née Ford), a housewife and nurse's aide, and Guy Tomlin, a factory worker. Tomlin's parents were Southern Baptists who moved to Detroit from Paducah, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. She is a 1957 graduate of Cass Technical High School. Tomlin attended Wayne State University, where her interest in the theater and performing arts began. After college, Tomlin began doing stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Detroit and later in New York City. Her first television appearance was on The Merv Griffin Show in 1965.
Stardom and classic Tomlin characters
In 1969, after a stint as a hostess on the ABC Television series Music Scene, Tomlin joined NBC's sketch comedy show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Tomlin was an instant success on the already established program, in which in addition to appearing in general sketches and delivering comic gags, she began appearing as regular characters she created that quickly became famous and went on to lives outside of the show in later recordings and television specials:
Ernestine was a nosy, condescending telephone operator who generally treated customers with little sympathy. Ernestine often snorted when she let loose a barbed response or heard something salacious; she also wore her hair in a 1940s hairstyle with a hair net, although the character was contemporary. Ernestine was almost always at her switchboard taking calls in the sketches. She occasionally called her boyfriend, Vito, a telephone repair man, or her pal Phoenicia, another operator.
dith Ann is a precocious five-and-a-half year old girl who waxes philosophical on everyday life, either about life as a kid or things for which she feels she has the answers although she is too young to fully understand. She often ends her monologues with "And that's the truth," punctuating it with a noisy raspberry. Edith Ann sits in an over-sized rocking chair (to make Tomlin seem child-sized) with her rag doll, Doris, and often talks of life at home with her battling parents and bullying older sister, Mary Jean (Lily Tomlin's actual first names). Edith Ann has an over-sized, playfully aggressive dog named Buster and a boyfriend named Junior Phillips, a possibly unrequited love. (No one but Edith and "Doris" are seen in any of the Edith Ann sketches.)
Mrs. Judith Beasley is a housewife and mother from Calumet City, Illinois who is often chosen for television commercials and offers "good consumer advice". She appears in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as the lead character's neighbor.
The Tasteful Lady is a somewhat prudish and prissy, conservatively dressed middle-aged apolitical woman who dispenses advice on gracious living and a life of elegance.
Susie the Sorority Girl is a blonde collegiate who could be the Tasteful Lady's daughter. Humorless and melodramatic, her biggest worries are the likes of who took her missing album by The Carpenters.
The Consumer Advocate Lady is a dour, austere woman who rigidly inspects and tests products for their alleged value. The Consumer Advocate Lady is something of a variation of Mrs. Beasley, much like Tomlin's "male vocalist" characters Tommy Velour and Pervis Hawkins.
Lucille the Rubber Freak is a woman addicted to eating rubber whose monologue details her habit from its beginning (chewing the eraser on pencils) to her obsessive rock bottom (eating the tip off mother's cane). Tomlin performed this character as part of her Laugh-In audition.
Tess/Trudy is a homeless bag lady who accosts theater-goers and various passers-by with her offbeat observations and tales of communications with extraterrestrials. ("They don't care if you believe in 'em or not - they're different from God.")
Tomlin was also one of the first female comedians to break out in male drag with her characters Tommy Velour and Rick. In 1982, she premiered Pervis Hawkins, a black rhythm-and-blues soul singer (patterned after Luther Vandross), with a mustache, beard and close-cropped afro hairstyle, dressed in a three-piece suit. Tomlin used very lit
Cass Technical High School
Wayne State University
Full Name at Birth
Mary Jean Tomlin
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Lillie Mae Ford
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Mary Jean "Lily" Tomlin (born September 1, 1939) is an American actress, comedian, writer, and producer. She has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s, when she began a career as a stand-up comedian and became a featured performer on television's Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Tomlin's career has spanned television, comedy recordings, Broadway, and motion pictures. She has starred in such films as Nashville, 9 to 5, All of Me, The Beverly Hillbillies, Orange County, and I Heart Huckabees. Her notable television roles include Laugh-In as a cast member from 1970–73, Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus, Kay Carter-Shepley on Murphy Brown, Deborah Fiderer on The West Wing, and Lillie Mae MacKenzie on Malibu Country.
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Music Genre (Text)
Observational comedy, Improvisational comedy
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