"My wish is that their happiness will be as great as their combined talents," says longtime pal Liz Smith
Showstopping actress and comedian Lily Tomlin and her partner of 42 years, Jane Wagner, were married in a private ceremony in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, Tomlin’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE on Tuesday.
“They’re very happy,” says the spokesperson, Jennifer Allen.
Besides their relationship, the couple’s many celebrated collaborations, written by Wagner, include Tomlin’s Tony-winning one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which played on Broadway, toured and was filmed for the screen, as well as the movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
Wagner, 78, was born and raised in Morristown, Tennessee. Tomlin, 74, is from Detroit. It has been reported that the two met when Tomlin was looking for a collaborator to help her develop the character of the wicked child Edith Ann.
As profiled in PEOPLE in 1976, just as Tomlin was branching out from TV’s Laugh-In into an impressive film career, “Lily put in time as a premed student at Detroit’s Wayne State University but she never lost her childhood zest for showing off in front of an audience. That led to club dates in New York, a spectacular stretch on Laugh-In, more TV specials and an Oscar nomination for her role in the film Nashville.”
Ten years later, in 1988, PEOPLE, in another love letter to Tomlin, wrote: “Real is the word for Lily. Usually she collaborates with her best friend writer Jane Wagner. When they’re not on the road, Lily says, home is ‘a big old pink stucco house in L.A. that used to belong to W.C. Fields. It’s casual, airy, light, very feminine, a soft house.’ ”
The story also said, “Lily speaks about Jane with great warmth. ‘We share similar feelings about people and about the world. She’s able to verbalize it and I’m able to physicalize it. She writes satirically but tenderly, and she loves farce and black comedy and broad slapstick. When you put all this together and make an audience laugh and be moved, it’s just glorious.’ ”
News of their marriage was first reported by the veteran columnist Liz Smith, who wrote, “[M]y longtime friends, Lily Tomlin and her love, the writer Jane Wagner, got married on the eve of 2014. … My wish is that their happiness will be as great as their combined talents.”
• Additional reporting by JULIE JORDAN