With the personal lives and views of various celebrities and pop culture icons more accessible than ever, it is easy to think all details about a person are widely known. In career that spans almost five decades, Roseanne Barr, 69, has gotten into acting and comedy routines, performing a divisive rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” shared strong political sentiments, gained a show, and lost her ABC show. The road from past to present has plenty of other twists and turns – but where did it all start? For Barr, it began with a restaurant.
Barr was born in 1952 into a devotedly Jewish household. It was her paternal grandfather’s move from Eastern Europe to the U.S. that inspired the surname change from Borisofsky to Barr. When Barr was just three, she developed Bell’s palsy on one side of her face; the temporary condition causes muscle weakness over several weeks that usually eases. Bar says she is on the autism spectrum. There are two big, formative moments in her life; before her restaurant work, Barr was in a brutal car accident at just 16. Both of these affected her in different ways.
A car crash and restaurant work shaped Roseanne Barr
First came the crash, in which Barr was actually struck by an oncoming vehicle. This was so brutal that it left Barr with a traumatic brain injury and, notes The List, a fight to stay alive. The trauma was so great, she had to stay for eight months at a mental institution. Reportedly, it was the hood ornament that did the brunt of the damage when it struck and went into her skull. It’s said that since this incident, she changed dramatically; she had a child she put up for adoption and left home claiming she was visiting a friend only to never come back.
One relocation to Denver later, Barr, who wanted to write and dabble in politics, found herself working in a restaurant. This became her more frequent occupation, eclipsing other ambitions, and saw Barr serve patrons food and drinks. All the while, she dished out witty comments that made her something of a local celebrity. One diner, in particular, said they were reminded of the routines at Comedy Works, a local comedy club.
This moment here inspired Barr to transition from restaurant work to frequent Colorado comedy clubs. “I had a standing ovation every night,” Barr claims. So began the more recognizable track she’s known for. As she built a name for herself, she also developed the styling of “Domestic Goddess.” This helped her secure an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1985, which in turn established her as a name worth elevating to bigger television that became her own self-named show.
Roseanne Barr after restaurant work, politics, social media and television
There’s no telling without that recommendation at that Denver restaurant years ago what track Barr might have taken in her career. Today, it has all led to The Conners, which proceeded without Barr after the fallout from a tweet of hers with racist connotations went viral. In it, she directed racist comments at former Obama administration advisor Valerie Jarrett. ABC canceled her show and reworked it into The Conners. Barr deleted her tweet, in which she called Jarrett a cross between the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes,” and apologized, but ties were still severed. Though her character died in The Conners to explain her absence, the show did acknowledge her influence and impact on the program in the aptly named season four episode “Messy Situation, Miscommunication and Academic Probation.”
The withdrawn star got entangled in politics in another way with her 2012 political campaign, in which she first sought favor in the Peace and Freedom Party. Her campaign secured between 50,000 to 70,000 votes. Though her original party was left-leaning, she later favored right-wing candidates after ending her own presidential bid.
Her personal life harbored plenty of upheaval of its own along the way, to be sure, including three marriages that ended in divorce – but they did also give her four additional children. With her platform secured, Barr was able to channel more of her aspirations and branch out; it is again because of the decision made decades ago that set her up for this ability to even make headlines with her comments and actions, whether it’s a Hitler photoshoot she calls satirical, speeches coming out as “queer,” presidential bids and endorsements alike, a “screechy” version of the national anthem President George H. W. Bush called disgraceful, and more.
In 2019, she’s returned to stand-up, the move that started it all, a move she used as a vehicle to condemn Hollywood, before withdrawing more – but not fully. Initially, she announced her intentions to fully cut ties with Twitter. However, her social media profiles were still spotted with posts of her discussing a variety of topics for some time after. Barr has come a long way since making comments at her restaurant job, not just in terms of career but geographically as well, as she calls Hawaii home with her partner Johnny Argent. Her posts have slowed down, replaced instead with quiet life on a farm.