SAG Awards 2017: 15 Reasons to Love Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin is being honored with a lifetime achievement award at this year's SAG Awards — if you need more reasons to love her, we've got them
Tomlin is one of America’s living treasures of comedy and acting — not only is she among the country’s most decorated performers, but she’s one of the most historically groundbreaking. In case you needed to get caught up on her life, or really just needed some reasons to love her as much as we do, we compiled a bunch.
1. She was born in Detroit. (Not necessarily a carte blanche reason to like someone, but as it’s been said, Detroit hustles harder.)
2. Tomlin was a pre-med major in school before she was bitten by the acting bug. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by her alumnus, Wayne State University, in 1988, and joined peer Penny Marshall in protesting animal research at the school in 2015. “I read up on leprosy when I was a kid and found out it had an incubation period of 11 years, so I spent a lot of time thinking I might have it and wouldn’t know for another 10 years,” she told The New York Times in 1970.
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3. She initially studied mime, which she considered “purer” than acting, but dropped out because it was “so arduous.” “And there were no words,” she added in We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy.
4. She would announce herself as “Howard Johnson’s Waitress of the Week” while working at one in New York in the 1960s. No such position existed at her restaurant, but she appointed herself.
5. She once stood up and walked out of The Dick Cavett Show when a guest referred to his wife as “the most valuable animal I own.”
6. Along those lines, she once clapped back at Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show when he asked her why she didn’t have any children. “Look, I love kids, really — I mean, I play a kid, I am a kid,” she responded at first, before adding, “But who has custody of yours?”
7. She’s been nominated for 63 various awards, with 40 wins among them. That includes two Tonys, a Grammy, six Emmys (plus a Daytime Emmy), the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and a Kennedy Center Honor.
8. She once insisted on having a working stove onstage during one of her TV specials for one of her characters so she could cook while she performed, for more authenticity.
9. She used to dress herself in clothing thrown out by the network’s wardrobe department, because “I hate to go shopping.”
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10. AT&T reportedly once offered Tomlin $500,000 to turn her Laugh-In character Ernestine into a spokesperson for the company. She told them Ernestine refused.
11. Her longtime partner (and as of 2014, wife) Jane Wagner said that she’d never seen Tomlin rehearse any of her characters. “She just gets up and does them.”
12. Actress Mary Steenburgen named her daughter Lilly after Tomlin after seeing her in Appearing Nicely in 1977.
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13. TIME allegedly offered Tomlin a cover in 1975 to come out. She refused. “They needed someone gay on the cover at that time for something, and I was more insulted that they would ask me to trade my personal life just to get on the cover of their magazine,” she said in 2005.
14. She also turned down her Mark Twain Prize for American Humor the first time it was offered to her.
15. Tomlin’s 1972 comedy album This Is a Recording is both the first solo female recording to win a Best Comedy Grammy and the highest-charting solo comedy album by a woman on Billboard‘s Hot 100.