Did you know Roseanne Barr was born in Salt Lake City?
Her grandfather was a descended from a long line of rabbis, but changed his name from Borisofsky to Barr when he arrived to Salt Lake City from Russia there was a lot of anti-Semitism. According to Roseanne, there were only 50 Jewish families in the city at the time.
To protect her children, Roseanne’s mother kept their Jewish background a secret from the neighbors, and took the family to Sunday services at a Mormon temple to fit in. That’s where a young Roseanne discovered her love to perform on stage. She gave lectures on the faith to Mormon congregations throughout Utah and become “like a little preaching rock star.” She was even president of a Mormon youth group.
According to Roseanne, “Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons.”
Roseanne’s Jewish upbringing was influenced by her devoutly Orthodox Jewish grandmother, who knew nothing about her granddaughter’s Mormon escapades. Her grandmother took her to synagogue for Shabbat services, where Roseanne’s stage power was not as successful as it was with the Mormons.
Today, she practices Kabbalah (like Madonna and Britney Spears), a form of Jewish mysticism. Roseanne was introduced to Kabbalah by a resident cantor when she was 13. During an interview with The Jewish Journal, Roseanne joked that the basis of her Jewishness, was “an overwhelming desire for carbohydrates.”
Roseanne has told this popular Jewish-Mormon story (which her mother had told her) to many audiences:
“When I was 3 years old, I got Bell’s palsy on the left side of my face, so my mother called in a rabbi to pray for me, but nothing happened. Then my mother got a Mormon preacher, he prayed, and I was miraculously cured.”
Roseanne learned later in life that Bell’s palsy was generally a temporary affliction, so the rabbi arrived too early, while the Mormon came at exactly the right time.
In 1970 at age 18, Roseanne told her parents that she was going to visit a friend in Colorado but never returned. There, she pursued a career as a stand-up comedian and was on The Tonight Show in 1985. Her biggest break was playing the lead female role in the very popular TV sitcom, “Roseanne” which ran for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997.
Roseanne is known more for her wisecracks and controversies (marrying “Roseanne” co-star Tom Arnold and her horrible rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” during a baseball game, to name a few) than her achievements as a performer and actress. She has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the TV sitcom “Roseanne.” In addition, she has won six People’s Choice Awards, three American Comedy Awards, a Kids Choice Award, a GLAAD Media Award, and the TV Land Innovator Award. She has been in several TV sitcoms, films; written books; and had her own talk show.
At the end of an interview with “The Jewish Journal” Roseanne was asked for some parting words of wisdom for the Jewish world and beyond. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice,” she said.
She has an official website which is currently promoting her book, “Roseannearchy: Dispatches From The Nut Farm.” Roseanne and her current husband, Johnny Argent (they met online in 2002) live on a 46-acre macadamia nut farm located on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Sources: Roseanneworld.com, JewishJournal.com, Wikipedia.