Born on September 1, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, Lily Tomlin is an Emmy-, Tony- and Grammy-winning actress best known for her diverse roles on television, film and stage. She also has the distinction of being the first woman to appear solo in a Broadway show with Appearing Nitely at the Biltmore theatre in April, 1977.
The daughter of a nurse’s aide and a factory worker, she was born on the same day as the German invasion of Poland. She graduated from Cass Technical High School, later attending Wayne State University, where she started her affair with acting. Her first television appearance as a stand-up comic was The Merv Griffin Show in 1965. He joined NBC’s sketch comedy show Laugh-In in 1969. She landed her first film role in All of Me. She then became one of the first female comedians to break out in male ddrag with her characters Tommy Velour and Rick.
Tomlin was offered $500,000 to play her character Ernestine in a commercial, but she declined arguing that it would compromise her artistic integrity. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Robert Altman’s Nashville, where she played Linnea Reese opposite Keith Carradine. In 2008, she landed a recurring role as Roberta on Desperate Housewives. There are reportedly talks for the two to star in a spin-off.
- She took up pre-med at Wayne State University before acting.
- She plays different roles before she begins her one-woman shows. One time in New York City, she walked around the sidewalk dressed in a Red Cross nurse's uniform and handed out cups of coffee to those waiting in line to enter the theatre. Meanwhile, for her Las Vegas show, she played a smarmy male lounge singer billed as Tommy Velour.
- With Paul Curtis as her tutor, she learned how to mime. She also studied acting with Charles Nelson Reilly and at HB Studio in Greenwich Village.
2002: U.S. Comedy Arts Festival - Career Tribute
2002: WinFemme Film Festival - WIN Lifetime Achievement Award
2000: Provincetown International Film Festival - Lily Award
1995: Daytime Emmy Awards - Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for: "The Magic School Bus"
1994: Golden Globe Awards - Special Award - Best Ensemble Cast for: Short Cuts. Shared.
1994: American Comedy Awards - Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for: Short Cuts
1993: Venice Film Festival - Volpi Cup - Best Ensemble Cast for: Short Cuts. Shared.
1992: Women in Film Crystal Awards - Crystal Award
1992: American Comedy Awards - Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) for: The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe
1991: American Comedy Awards - Funniest Female Performer in a TV Special (Leading or Supporting) Network, Cable or Syndication for: An Evening With... Friends of the Environment
1991: Seattle International Film Festival - Golden Space Needle Award Best Actress for: The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe
1988: Funniest Female Stand-Up Comic
1987: Funniest Female Stand-Up Comic
1987: Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy
1981: Fantafestival - Best Actress for: The Incredible Shrinking Woman
1981: Emmy Awards - Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program for: Lily: Sold Out. Shared.
1978: Emmy Awards - Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special for: The Paul Simon Special. Shared.
1977: Berlin International Film Festival - Silver Berlin Bear - Best Actress for: The Late Show
1976: Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Supporting Actress for: Nashville
1976: Emmy Awards - Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special for: The Lily Tomlin Special. Shared.
1975: National Society of Film Critics Awards - Best Supporting Actress for: Nashville
1974: Emmy Awards - Best Writing in Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music
for: Lily. Shared.
2010: Damages (TV series) - Marilyn Tobin
2008-2009: Desperate Housewives (TV series) - Roberta Simonds
2009: The Pink Panther 2 - Mrs. Berenger
2008: Lily Tomlin Goes Shopping (short)
2008: Ponyo - Toki (voice: English version)
2008: 12 Miles of Bad Road (TV series) - Amelia Shakespeare
2007: The Walker - Abigail Delorean
2006: The Ant Bully - Mommo (voice)
2002-2006: The West Wing (TV series) - Deborah Fiderer
2006: A Prairie Home Companion - Rhonda Johnson
2005-2006: Will & Grace (TV series) - Margot
2005: The Simpsons (TV series) - Tammy
2004: I Heart Huckabees - Vivian
2002: Orange County - Charlotte Cobb
2000: The Kid - Janet
1999: Tea with Mussolini - Georgie Rockwell
1998: The X-Files (TV series) - Lydia
1996-1998: Murphy Brown (TV series) - Kay Carter-Shepley
1998: Krippendorf's Tribe - Ruth Allen
1994-1997: The Magic School Bus (TV series) - Ms. Valerie Frizzle (voice)
1996: Edith Ann's Christmas: Just Say Noel (TV movie)
1996: Getting Away with Murder - Inga Mueller
1996: Flirting with Disaster - Mary Schlichting
1996: Homicide: Life on the Street (TV series) - Rose Halligan
1995: Blue in the Face - Waffle Eater
1994: Frasier (TV series) - Rita
1994: Edith Ann: Homeless Go Home (TV movie) - Edith Ann (voice)
1994: Edith Ann: A Few Pieces of the Puzzle (TV movie) - Edith Ann (voice)
1993: The Beverly Hillbillies - Miss Jane Hathaway
1993: And the Band Played On (TV movie) - Dr. Selma Dritz
1993: Short Cuts - Doreen Piggot
1991: Shadows and Fog - Prostitute
1991: The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe - Truby the Bag Lady/Agnus Angst/Kate/Brandy/Tina
1988: Big Business - Rose Ratliff/Rose Shelton
1984: Pryor's Place (TV series)
1984: All of Me - Edwina Cutwater
1981: The Incredible Shrinking Woman - Pat Kramer/Judith Beasley/Telephone Operator
1980: Nine to Five - Violet Newstead
1979: Sesame Street (TV series) - Edith Ann
1978: Moment by Moment - Trisha
1976-1977: Saturday Night Live (TV series) - Various/Ernestine/Host
1977: The Late Show - Margo Sperling
1975: The Lily Tomlin Special (TV movie) - Performer
1975: Nashville - Linnea Reese
1973: Lily (TV movie)
1972: The Electric Company (TV series)
1972: Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers - Telephone Voice
1969-1973: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (TV series) - Edith Ann/Ernestine, the telephone operator/Regular Performer
1969: Letters to Laugh-In (TV series) - Panelist
1966-1967: The Garry Moore Show (TV series) - Regular