For nearly six decades, actor and comedian Lily Tomlin has been entertaining audiences across the globe with her unique brand of improvisational comedy. But the star wouldn’t be where she is today without her wife, Jane Wagner, by her side (via People). Tomlin and Wagner have been a couple as well as a creative duo since the early ’70s, and their collective talent has produced some of America’s most successful plays and shows. So who exactly is Jane Wagner, and what has she written that you may recognize?
Described as “one of America’s greatest playwrights” by their official site, Wagner has won several Emmys as well as a Writers Guild award for her work in television. She made her writing debut with the CBS teleplay J.T. in 1969, which won her a Peabody award and the attention of Tomlin. They began working together in 1971, and have continued to do so ever since.
“Frankly, I was pretty taken with her as soon as I saw her,” Tomlin told Metro Weekly. “We just sort of clicked. We became a couple straight away.” The comedian was drawn to Wagner’s talent, brain, and her personality. “That kind of admiration and respect is a big factor in a relationship. I know what a good heart she has, and how empathetic she is with all kinds of people and issues.” And most importantly, she makes her laugh. “She’s as funny as she can possibly be,” Tomlin added.
Jane Wagner's success is a direct result of her relationship with Lily Tomlin
After they met, the couple worked together on a one-woman show that would eventually become the critically acclaimed The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Written by Jane Wagner and starring Lily Tomlin, the show, along with numerous other plays including The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Appearing Nitely, cemented their creative partnership. So much so, that the couple have a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (via Heavy).
For Wagner, her success is a direct result of her relationship with Tomlin. “When I got confidence, it was because of Lily, who believed in my work,” she told Variety. “Her appreciation of my work meant all the difference to me. I saw her motivation. I saw her drive, and her strength taught me something.” In that same interview, Tomlin revealed that she fell in love with Wagner two minutes after they first met. It seems it was the same for the writer. “It was an ecstatic time when we found each other,” Wagner said, “aesthetically — and in every other way.”
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