Lily Tomlin Comes to McCarter Theatre Center Tomorrow, 4/26
One of America’s most beloved comic actresses, Lily Tomlin rose to prominence as a member of 1969’s Laugh-In, where she introduced such characters as Ernestine, the irascible telephone operator, and Edith Ann, the devilish six year old. After Laugh-In left the air, Tomlin co-wrote and starred in six comedy television specials, for which she earned three Emmy Awards and a Writer’s Guild of America award. She later made notable guest appearances on several hit shows, such as CBS’s Murphy Brown, NBC’s Will & Grace and FX’s Damages, for which she earned another Emmy nomination. Tomlin also provided the voice of Ms. Frizzle on the popular PBS animated children’s series, The Magic School Bus, and in 2002 she joined the cast of NBC’s The West Wing in the recurring role of Debbie Fiderer, the president’s secretary.
Tomlin made her Broadway debut in 1977 in Jane Wagner’s play Appearing Nitely, a one-woman show which featured some of her most beloved and memorable characters and earned her a Tony award for her performance. She then appeared in Wagner’s one-woman The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which earned her a second Tony award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. She later reprised this role in the film adaptation of the same name. Tomlin also earned a Grammy Award for her debut comedy album This is a Recording, as well as nominations for her later releases.
On film, Tomlin made her debut in Nashville (1975)as Linnea Reese, a straight-laced gospel singer and mother of two deaf children, for which she earned an Academy Award nomination, and both the New York Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics voted her Best Supporting Actress. She later notably appeared opposite John Travolta in Jane Wagner’s Moment by Moment (1978) and opposite Dolly Parton in the comedy 9 to 5 (1980). Other highlights in Tomlin’s film career include ensemble casts of Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1992), A Prairie Home Companion (2006), The Walker (2007), and Pink Panther II (2009). For her extensive work in film, Tomlin has received the Crystal Award from Women in Film.
In the fall of 2003, Tomlin was the recipient of the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Tomlin continues to make appearances around the nation and, in 2006, took her classic characters to Australia for shows in Sydney and Melbourne. In November 2009, Tomlin debuted in Las Vegas at The MGM Grand Hotel in her new show entitled Not Playing with a Full Deck. She returned there for two engagements in March and April 2010.