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Lily Tomlin

Updated on October 2, 2014

Lily Tomlin

Many folks remember Lily Tomlin from her hilarious characters and skits from the old Laugh-In show. It should be noted, however, that Tomlin is also a talented writer and producer. She has won multiple awards in show biz, including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, and a Grammy Award, and has also been nominated for an Academy Award.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Lily Background

Mary Jean Tomlin, (later Lily Tomlin), was born on September 1, 1939, in Detroit, Michigan. Her father was a factory worker and her mother was a nurse's aide. Early on, Tomlin loved the comedy of Lucille Ball and Imogene Coca, among others. After high school, Tomlin started studying medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, but she also took some courses in theater at the college. Those classes brought out her true love of comedy, and they would also help to shape her future. Tomlin quit college and started performing her stand-up comedy routines at the local establishments. In 1965, her comedic talents took her to New York City, where Tomlin's first break came when she appeared on "The Merv Griffin Show" later that same year. She also appeared on the popular "The Garry Moore Show" in 1966.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Lily Tomlin Quote

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."-Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin Items on Amazon

Tomlin Bio

Tomlin was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Lillie Mae (née Ford), a housewife and nurse's aide, and Guy Tomlin, a factory worker. Tomlin's parents were Southern Baptists who moved to Detroit from Paducah, Kentucky during the Great Depression. She is a 1957 graduate of Cass Technical High School. Tomlin attended Wayne State University, where her interest in the theater and performing arts began. After college, Tomlin began doing stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Detroit and later, in New York City. Her first television appearance was on The Merv Griffin Show in 1965....(read more)

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Laugh-In Question

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Lily Tomlin Videos


Lily Tomlin Filmography

The Pink Panther 2 2009

Ponyo 2009

Seniors 2007

The Walker 2007

The Ant Bully 2006

A Prairie Home Companion 2006

Will & Grace (TV Series) 2005

The Simpsons (TV Series) 2005

I Heart Huckabees 2004

The West Wing (TV Series) 2002

Orange County 2002

The Kid 2000

Tea with Mussolini 1999

The X Files (TV Series) 1998

Krippendorf's Tribe 1998

Murphy Brown (TV Series) 1996

Edith Ann's Christmas: Just Say Noel (TV) 1996

Getting Away with Murder 1996

Flirting with Disaster 1996

Homicide: Life on the Street (TV Series) 1996

Blue in the Face 1995

The Magic School Bus (TV Series) 1994

Frasier (TV Series) 1994

Edith Ann: Homeless Go Home (TV) 1994

Edith Ann: A Few Pieces of the Puzzle (TV) 1994

The Beverly Hillbillies 1993

And the Band Played On (TV) 1993

Short Cuts 1993

Shadows and Fog 1992

The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe 1991

Big Business 1988

Pryor's Place (TV Series) 1984

All of Me 1984

The Incredible Shrinking Woman 1981

Nine to Five 1980

Moment by Moment 1978

Saturday Night Live (TV Series) 1977

The Late Show 1977

The Lily Tomlin Special (TV) 1975

Nashville 1975

Lily (TV) 1973

Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers 1972

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (TV Series) 1969

Letters to Laugh-In (TV Series) 1969

The Music Scene (TV Series) 1969

The Garry Moore Show (TV Series) 1958

Another Tomlin Quote

“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”-Lily Tomlin.

Lily Tomlin's Awards

*U.S. Comedy Arts Festival: Career Tribute, 2002

*WinFemme Film Festival: WIN Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002

*Provincetown International Film Festival: Lily Award, 2000

*Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, "The Magic School Bus," 1995

*Golden Globe: Best Ensemble Cast, "Short Cuts," 1994

*American Comedy: Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, "Short Cuts," 1994

*Venice Film Festival: Best Ensemble Cast, "Short Cuts," 1993

*American Comedy: Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role), "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," 1992

*Women in Film Crystal: Crystal Award, 1992

*Seattle International Film Festival: Best Actress, "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," 1991

*American Comedy: Funniest Female Stand-Up Comic, 1987, 1988

*American Comedy: Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy, 1987

*Tony: Best Actress (Play), "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," 1986

*Emmy: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program, "Lily: Sold Out," 1981

*Fantafestival: Best Actress, "The Incredible Shrinking Woman," 1981

*Emmy: Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special, "The Paul Simon Special," 1978

*Berlin International Film Festival: Best Actress, "The Late Show," 1977

*Tony: Special Award, 1977

*Emmy: Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special, "The Lily Tomlin Special," 1976

*Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, "Nashville," 1976

*National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, "Nashville,"1975

*New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, "Nashville," 1975

*Emmy: Best Writing in Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music, "Lily," 1974

*Grammy: Album "This is a Recording," 1971

More Tomlin Items

Photo Credits

In decending order

CBS Photos


Creative Commons

Thoughts on Lily? - Feel free to comment here.

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this tribute to Tomlin. She more than deserves it.

      I've seen her on stage three times. The last two were The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life. Absolutely magical.

      But the first time was for her one-woman play before that in Houston. She wore tuxedo trousers and a white shirt in that one--you saw each character in your mind's eye, costume and all, just from the way she played it. A friend and I rented tuxedos to attend. Afterward, we waited at the backstage door to give her a dozen yellow roses.

      She had extended the run of the play by a week because a few performances had to be cancelled due to illness. She wasn't fully well yet. When she came out of the door, exhaustion was written all over her. But several people were there wanting autographs or their photos taken with her. She attended to every one of them, sweetly, no complaints, no rushing. We didn't want to impose. We gave the roses to her and didn't ask for anything.

      Through her agent, I sent her a note later to say how much we enjoyed her performance. I said we were the ones who gave her the roses. She sent a lovely handwritten thank-you note back.

      I admire her for that grace as a person, as well as for her immense talent.

    • KokoTravel profile image


      7 years ago

      She seems to be immortal, eh?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Lily Tomlin is one of my all time favorite comics! Edith Ann was one of my favorite of her characters...her brutally honest observations just really cracked me up.

    • Sami4u LM profile image

      Sami4u LM 

      8 years ago


      One ringie dingie two ringie dingie well this lens get 5 ringie dingie. LOL


    • AnimalGuy profile image


      9 years ago

      Ole Lily Tomlin! I first saw her on the Electric Company and later I even bought some of her vinyl LPs. Very funny lady

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      She's a great star - well done with this tribute

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love Lily Tomlin! Nicely done. 5*'s

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Welcome to the SquidWho Comedians Group - Kathy


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