Jane Wagner and her wife Lily Tomlin have been in a 45-year relationship that Tomlin says is a success because of their mutual admiration and respect.
Tomlin first noticed Wagner after seeing a CBS afternoon special J.T. (1969) written by Wagner, for which she won a Peabody Award. Tomlin was looking for someone to help her develop the Laugh-In character Edith Ann. It was the beginning of a collaboration that continues to this day.
Their relationship was an open secret in Hollywood, but the public didn’t really catch on. Tomlin says that Time Magazine tried to get her to make a public coming out statement in 1975. In 2006, Tomlin told MetroSource:
“In 1975, I was making the Modern Scream album and Jane and I were in the studio. My publicist called me and said, ‘Time will give you the cover if you’ll come out.’ I was more offended than anything that they thought we’d make a deal. But that was ’75 — it would have been a hard thing to do at that time.”
Wagner is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and playwright. She has won several Emmy Awards for writing and producing and a Writer’s Guild Award for her work in television. She has also won a New York Drama Critics Circle Special Award and a New York Drama Desk Award for her remarkable play The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe on Broadway.
Wagner wrote and directed the unfortunate Moment By Moment (1978), a film starring Tomlin as a bored homemaker involved in a romantic affair with John Travolta. She wrote the screenplay and executive produced the inventive The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), a dark satire on environmental concerns, where Tomlin plays a suburban mother ”shrinking” as a result of her exposure to the toxic chemicals found in our everyday world.
Their love story is one of the greatest is showbiz history. Wagner, who is also Tomlin’s writing partner married on New Year’s Eve 2013.