Throughout her extraordinary career, Tomlin has received numerous awards, including six Emmys; a Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Appearing Nitely; a second Tony as Best Actress and a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics' Circle Award for her one-woman performance in Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; a CableAce Award for executive producing the film adaptation of The Search; a Grammy for her comedy album This is a Recording, as well as nominations for her subsequent albums Modern Scream, And That's the Truth and On Stage; and two Peabody Awards the first for the ABC television special Edith Ann's Christmas: Just Say Noël, and the second for narrating and executive producing the HBO film The Celluloid Closet.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Tomlin started her career performing in local coffee houses. She moved to New York in 1965, where she soon built a strong following with her appearances at landmark clubs such as The Improvisation, Cafe Au Go Go, and the Upstairs at the Downstairs, where she later opened for the legendary Mabel Mercer in the Downstairs Room.
Tomlin made her television debut in 1966 on The Garry Moore Show and then made several memorable appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, which led to a move to California where she appeared as a regular on Music Scene. In December 1969, Tomlin joined the cast of the groundbreaking comedy show Laugh-In and immediately rose to national prominence with her characterizations of Ernestine, the irascible telephone operator, and Edith Ann, the devilish six-year-old. When Laugh-In left the air, Tomlin went on to co-write, with Jane Wagner, and star in the television comedy specials: The Lily Tomlin Show, Lily, Lily Tomlin, Lily: Sold Out, and Lily for President?, for which she won three Emmy Awards and a Writers Guild of America Award. Tomlin also starred in HBO's 1993 drama about the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On. She has guest starred on numerous television shows, including Homicide, X-Files and Will & Grace, and played the boss for two years on the CBS series Murphy Brown. She is also heard as the voice of the science teacher, Ms. Frizzle, on the children's animated series, The Magic School Bus, for which she was awarded an Emmy.
Tomlin made her Broadway debut in the 1977 play Appearing Nitely, written and directed by Jane Wagner. Appearing Nitely included such favorites as Ernestine, Edith Ann and Judith Beasley, the Calumet City housewife, and also introduced Trudy the bag lady, Crystal the hang-gliding quadriplegic, Rick the singles bar cruiser, Glenna as a child of the sixties, and Sister Boogie Woman, a 77-year-old blues revivalist. Appearing Nitely was later adapted as both an album and an HBO Special. Tomlin next appeared on Broadway in 1985 in a year-long, SRO run of Jane Wagner's critically acclaimed play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The Broadway success was followed by a coast-to-coast, 14-city tour that spanned four and a half years. Tomlin extended this extraordinary theatrical career with a cross-country, 29-city tour of The Search, a new production of The Search on Broadway, a record-breaking, six-month run of the production in San Francisco, and a six-week run in Los Angeles. On film, Tomlin made her debut in Robert Altman's Nashville, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and won both the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. She next starred opposite Art Carney in Robert Benton's The Late Show. She went on to star with John Travolta as a lonely housewife in Jane Wagner's Moment By Moment, and then teamed with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton in the comedy 9 to 5. She starred as the happy homemaker who became The Incredible Shrinking Woman, written by Jane Wagner, and the eccentric rich woman whose soul invades Steve Martin's body in Carl Reiner's All of Me. She then teamed with Bette Midler for Big Business.
In the 90s, Tomlin starred in the film adaptation of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life In the Universe, appeared as part of an ensemble cast in Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog, starred in Robert Altman's Short Cuts, and portrayed Miss Jane Hathaway in the screen adaptation of the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies. Her other film credits include The Player, Blue in the Face, Flirting With Disaster, Getting Away with Murder, Krippendorf's Tribe and Tea With Mussolini.
She starred with Bruce Willis in The Kid and appeared in a quirky cameo role in Orange County. Tomlin co-starred in the David O. Russell comedy I Heart Huckabee's. She was most recently seen in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion. Tomlin just completed shooting Paul Schrader's new movie The Walker, due out in 2007.
In 2002, Tomlin joined the cast of the NBC drama series The West Wing, playing President Bartlett's assistant, Debbie Fiderer, for which she received a 2003 Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series. In the fall of 2003, she was honored with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in Washington, DC. Tomlin continues to make appearances around the nation, and will soon be taking her classic characters to Australia for shows in Sydney and Melbourne.
For her extensive work in film, Tomlin has received the Crystal Award from Women in Film. Her entire career in art, text, photos and videos can be found at www.lilytomlin.com.
Read earlier biographies on this page.
Lily Tomlin Facts
|Birth Name||Mary Jean Tomlin|
|Birthday||September 1, 1939 (79)|
|Birthplace||Detroit, Michigan, USA|
|Height||5' 8" (1m73) How tall is Lily Tomlin compared to you?|
|Grace And Frankie: Season 2|
|Grace And Frankie Season 1|
|The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series|
|9 To 5|
|Disney's The Kid|
|Pink Panther 2|