‘Roseanne’ (1988 – 1997) was a groundbreaking sitcom. It wasn’t about glossy parents with model teenage kids getting caught up in comic misunderstandings, this family were beer-drinking, couch-loving, plaid-shirt-wearing middle America in all its burping and farting glory.
The show focused on the daily struggles of Roseanne and Dan Conner with their kids Becky, Darlene and D.J. This was a house, as most are, where a yelled ‘shut up’ was in much more frequent use than a sickly ‘I love you, honey’.
Roseanne’s policewoman sister Jackie was always floating about the place and in later series Roseanne worked in a diner with an unusually (for TV) high percentage of gay co-workers.
Here’s the bluesy opening intro with Roseanne’s trademark dirty cackle at the end.
First a few notes -
- Joss Whedon and Judd Apatow got their first writing jobs on the show
- DJ was actually played by a different little boy called Sal Barone in the pilot episode. He had grown too much by the time the series was picked up and so he was replaced with Michael Fishman. Here’s Sal in the original opening credits.
- The final season was completely crackers and featured Roseanne winning the lottery. Roseanne Barr had actually bought the rights to ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and tried to merge the two sitcoms together – unsuccessfully.
- The final episode was an odd one. It was revealed that half the show was just stuff Roseanne had made up while writing. Dan was actually dead, Becky married David and Darlene married Mark instead of the other way around.
Note to producers: never have an ‘it was all a dream’ ending (or, while we’re here, ‘it was purgatory all along, just as you thought it would be in season 1′).
Sadly one of the cast-members has since died, one is in a lesbian relationship with a top songwriter, one was Andy’s mom in ‘Toy Story, and one is a furry monster.
Check out what everyone is up to after the jump!
Roseanne Barr – Roseanne Conner
Roseanne was raised in a Jewish household that also dabbled in the Mormon faith on the side.
At age 16 she was hit by a car and her behaviour changed so much after the brain-damage that she was institutionalised for eight months.
In the late 80′s Roseanne was a successful stand-up comedian and so a sitcom was created around her real life. She was outraged when Matt Williams was listed as the show’s creator in the first episode’s credits as she felt he was just a ‘developer’. The pair were locked in a stand-off that resulted in Roseanne refusing to read certain lines and eventually lead to Matt being sacked.
Before season 6, Roseanne had extensive plastic surgery and returned with a completely different face. Heavy makeup was used to cover up her bruises as she hadn’t completely healed by the time filming started again.
Roseanne also voiced the baby girl in ‘Look Who’s Talking Too’, and starred in the movie ‘She-Devil’.
Since the sitcom ended she had her own talkshow ‘The Roseanne Barr Show’ (which was cancelled in 2000), along with a cookery show and a reality show called ‘The Real Roseanne Barr Show’. She also voiced a cow in Disney’s flop film ‘Home On The Range’.
In 2011 she appeared in a reality show called ‘Roseanne’s Nuts’ which followed her family as they ran a nut-farm. It was cancelled after a few months.
She ran to the US President in 2012. Roseanne was the candidate for the Peace and Freedom party and ended up with 50,000 votes. She was beaten by Barack Obama.
When she was 17 Roseanne gave a baby up for adoption but they were later reunited. She had three children with her first husband Bill Pentland. They divorced in 1990 and four days later she married fellow comedian Tom Arnold.
They divorced in 1994 and in 1995 Roseanne married Ben Thomas, her former security-guard. They had a son called Buck together and divorced in 2002. She now lives with her partner Johnny Argent on a nut farm in Hawaii.
John was a football player in University but turned to acting after an injury. He moved to New York and starred in this aftershave ad in the early 70′s.
He did loads of theatre work and landed some movie roles in the 80′s including the part of the football coach in ‘Revenge of the Nerds’, before getting his big break with ‘Roseanne’.
He’s escaped being typcast as a sitcom star thanks to his iconic roles in five Coen brothers films – ‘Raising Arizona’, ‘Barton Fink’, ‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘ O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ and the upcoming ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.
You might remember John played Fred Flintstone in the disappointing (to put it politely) big screen adaption of the classic cartoon.
Seriously, Rosie O’Donnell as Betty? Seriously?
John also voiced Pacha in Disney’s ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’, Big-Daddy in ‘The Princess and the Frog’ and most famously Sully in ‘Monster’s Inc’ and the upcoming ‘Monsters University’.
Most recently he appeared in the Oscar winning films ‘The Artist’ and ‘Argo’.
There’s talk of John teaming up with Roseanne Barr again in a new sitcom called ‘Downwardly Mobile’ but it’s not clear if the project will actually go ahead.
John says he had a 30 year battle with alcoholism and has been sober since 2007 thanks to daily AA meetings. He’s also lost a lot of weight in recent years due to health fears.
John and his wife Anna-Beth have a daughter called Molly who is now studying film.
Laurie Metcalf – Jackie Harris
Before ‘Roseanne’, Laurie was an award winning theatre actress from Illinois who had also appeared as Leslie Glass in ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’, an investigator in ‘JFK’ and the nosey next door neighbour Marcie in ‘Uncle Buck’.
Since the show she has voiced Andy’s mom in the ‘Toy Story’ films.
She also played Frasier’s ex wife Nanny G in ‘Frasier’, the (spoiler!) killer mom in ‘Scream 2′, gun-happy Carolyn Bigsby (who shoots Nora and almost kills Lynette) in ‘Desperate Housewives’ and most recently she starred as Mary Cooper in ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
She was married to Jeff Perry in the 80′s (he played a teacher in ‘My So Called Life’, see here), they had a daughter called Zoe in 1984 and divorced in 1992.
Laurie has a son and daughter with her second husband Matt Roth. They met when he played an abusive boyfriend called Fisher on ‘Roseanne’, they divorced in 2011.
Alicia Goranson – Becky Conner # 1
Alicia (known by her nickname Lecy) left the show to go to Vassar University. For a while she managed to appear part-time (it was said Becky eloped with Mark) was eventually replaced by Sarah Chalke.
She then returned as Becky in the eight season but couldn’t make all the filming days so Sarah kept being brought in to replace her. Sarah did the role full-time for the final season.
Here’s how the show didn’t really try to cover up the switches.
She has since appeared in ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit‘, ‘Sex and the City’ (the birth mom who changes her mind about giving her child to Charlotte) and ‘Fringe’.
Apparently on an appearance on Larry King, Alicia said she objected to episodes of ‘Roseanne’ that dealt with homosexuality as she is ‘a good Christian’. Hmm.
Sarah was brought in to replace Alicia Goronson as Becky when she left the show (twice). Despite playing the eldest child, Sarah was actually younger than Sara Gilbert, who plays Darlene.
She was raised in Canada but speaks German fluently as her mum is German, and speaks French ‘fairly well’.
After ‘Roseanne’, she landed the role she is probably best known for – Dr Elliot Reid in ‘Scrubs’.
She has since appeared in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Cougar Town’, and now stars in a new sitcom called ‘How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life)’.
She has a son called Charlie with her fiancé Jamie Afifi and can apparently write with her toes.
Sara Gilbert – Darlene Conner
Sara’s older brother and sister, Jonathan and Melissa Gilbert, both starred in hit 70′s TV show ‘Little House on the Prairie’.
Melissa’s character of Darlene was considered so important to the show that producers juggled the schedule and even filmed scenes in New York so she could study art at Yale University.
While on ‘Roseanne’, she voiced Laura Powers – Bart’s babysitter on ‘The Simpsons’.
Since the show she has had guest roles on ’24′, ‘ER’, ‘Will & Grace’, ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ and was in ‘Riding In Cars With Boys’ with Drew Barrymore.
She joined her former on-screen boyfriend Johnny Galecki on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ as Leslie Winkle.
She is now a co-host and executive producer on ‘The Talk’, a daytime talk-show also featuring Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Sharon Underwood and Aisha Taylor.
She has two children with her former partner Allison Adler and is now engaged to song-writer and former 4-non-blondes frontwoman Linda Perry.
Michael Fishman – D.J. Conner
After the show Michael played ‘teen in van’ in Steven Spielberg’s ‘AI: Artificial Intelligence’ and co-hosted ‘The Roseanne Show’ with Roseanne Barr for two years.
He started working behind the scenes as a set-building, prop-man and assistant director but says he hopes to return to acting and become a producer.
He’s married with two children.
Johnny Galecki – David Healy
Johnny was actually born in Belgium as his US Air Force pilot dad was based there at the time – but he grew up in Illinois.
Before ‘Roseanne’ he played Rusty Griswold in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’.
His ‘Roseanne’ character was first introduced as Kevin but later changed to David, this was half-explained in a later episode when Roseanne rants about how controlling Darlene is to her boyfriend – “David isn’t even his real name, Darlene made it up!”
He had small parts in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and ‘Bean’ before becoming an award-winning stage actor.
Johnny’s now best known for playing Leonard Hofstadter on ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
He’s also played a parody of himself on ‘Entourage’ and appeared with Justin Timberlake in ‘In Time’ and Will Smith in ‘Hancock’.
Johnny owns 360 acres of land in California which includes a vineyard and a log cabin (no recession in his house, eh?).
He was dating his Big Bang co-star Kaley Cuoco (Penny) for two years and kept the relationship secret until they broke up.
Glenn Quinn- Mark Healy
Glenn was actually an Irishman and was raised in Cabinteely, County Dublin. He moved to LA with his mum and two sisters in 1988. He auditioned for (and lost out on) the parts of Brandon and Steve in ‘Beverly Hills 90210′ and had a small speaking part in the pilot episode.
He kissed Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Shout’ (1991) in her first on-screen role. While working on ‘Roseanne’ he was asked to read for a part opposite Brad Pitt in ‘A River Runs Through It’ but said he had a fishing trip planned and didn’t want to audition.
After ‘Roseanne’, Glenn was finally able to use his Irish accent as Doyle on the Buffy spin-off ‘Angel’. His character was killed off early in the first season amid reports of tension on set. Supervising Producer David Fury says “It just became a situation. The work situation became difficult… It’s hard enough to make a television show without the headaches.”
In 2002 Glenn died of an accidental heroin overdose, he was just 32 years old.
Natalie West – Crystal Anderson-Conner
Natalie played Roseanne’s best friend Crystal, a role which was down-graded to ‘recurring character’ as the series went on.
She returned to the theatre and has appeared in a few independent movies.
Estelle Parsons – Beverly Harris
Before ‘Roseanne’, Estelle won an Oscar for her supporting role in ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.
In 2004 she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and is still performing on Broadway.
Martin Mull – Leon Carp
Before playing Roseanne’s gay boss, Martin appeared in a load of sitcoms including ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’. He also played Colonel Mustard in cult classic ‘Clue’.
He went on to play Principal Willard Kraft in ‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch’ and has appeared in ‘Two and a Half Men’, ‘American Dad!’, ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’.
Sandra Bernhard – Nancy Bartlett
Sandra still a successful stand-up comedian. She starred in Martin Scorcese’s ‘The King of Comedy’ in 1983 and was well-known for her close friendship with Madonna in the early 90′s.
Sandra denies they were ever lovers and say that was just an act for fun. She now says they “don’t speak anymore. I keep my friends my whole life, but Madonna feels differently.”
She says she was offered the role of Miranda in ‘Sex and the City’ but turned it down because of the “terrible script” and low pay.
Cole and Morgan Roberts – Jerry Garcia Conner
Twin boys Cole and Morgan were brought in to play Roseanne’s son Jerry Garcia.
The role was originally intended to be a girl but Roseanne wanted the part to reflect the arrival of her real-life son and also wanted the name to pay respect to the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
The twins are no longer involved in showbiz, but judging from this Facebook pic they seem to be pretty happy, regular teenagers.
The show also included some future-stars like George Clooney as Booker Brooks …
.. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as George in 4 episodes.
The cast actually got together for a photoshoot a few years ago – there’s both Beckys!
Check out this awkward moment on a reunion with Larry David – “Where is Mark?”
Here’s Roseanne talking about the success of the show.
The cast of ‘Roseanne’, we salute you!
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