Lily Tomlin has had a variety of roles over the years, including Ms. Frizzle on the Magic School Bus, Violet in 9 to 5, and the title Frankie on Grace and Frankie, but her favorite by far is that of Jane Wagner’s wife. Early in the 1970s, the couple—who have been together for more than 50 years—met, and it was love at first sight.
In July 2020 at the Lambda Literary Awards, the Malibu County alum recounted meeting the playwright, who had been introduced to Tomlin at the actress’ New York City hotel through a common friend, and saying, “I tell you, in two minutes, I fell in love with her.”
J.T. Tomlin said that the woman was wearing “hot leggings, elastic boots that reached up to her knee, and a tiny backpack.” I was in love, but I’m not sure what it was. The following day, the pair embarked on their first date, and the rest is history. “When we found each other, it was an exhilarating period,” Wagner continued.
Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner’s Relationship Timeline
Along with their emotional relationship, the couple also developed a creative bond. Wagner and Lily Tomlin started working together right away, with Wagner writing and Tomlin performing.
The Tennessee native wrote project after project for her beloved, including several of Tomlin’s own leading roles: the mid-’70s TV special for The Lily Tomlin Show and two other Lily specials.
Moment by Moment, featuring Tomlin and John Travolta, was written by Wagner at the end of the decade. The Incredible Shrinking Woman, starring the Grace and Frankie alum, was written by Wagner in the early 1980s.
They Immediately Clicked
Tomlin reached out to Wagner after asking her for assistance with her comedy CD, but “didn’t hear from her for a while.” She emailed me a ton of material all of a sudden, approximately a week before I was meant to go in and record.
She agreed to travel to California with me so we could work on making it. Since the moment I saw her, I was quite smitten with her. We simply had a connection. We immediately dated,” Tomlin told Metro Weekly.
Tomlin Waited until Her Mother Died to Publicly Come out As Gay
“My mom would have passed away. Literally. ‘If she’d lived to see me come out,’ the actress said in a 2015 interview with The Telegraph. She was Southern and essentially a fundamentalist, but she was also incredibly humorous, kind, and loving toward Jane. Bless her heart. Ten years have passed since her death. She was 91.
Therefore, I constantly felt like I was in a catch-22. Even though it was “a hard decision to make,” Tomlin finally chose to decline TIME’s offer to come out on the cover of its magazine in 1975 because she wanted to be recognized for her acting, not her sexual orientation, she said in an interview with Fonda.
Tomlin and Wagner Have Always Loved to Work Together
Screenwriter Jane Wagner has collaborated with her wife on a number of projects, including the film The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Tomlin’s one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, for which she received a 1986 Tony Award.
In 1988, Tomlin remarked on Wagner, “We have similar feelings about people and about the world.” She can articulate it, and I can physically express it. She enjoys farce, black humor, and broad slapstick and writes satirically but lovingly. It’s really great when you combine all of this and move and amuse an audience.
They Finally Got Married in 2013 in An Intimate Ceremony
When they went to get their marriage license, Tomlin told People that they made an effort to blend in. We went to Van Nuys because we didn’t want anybody to write about us if they saw us, she explained.
A few days later, they were wed at a friend’s home. It was tasty, Tomlin remarked. We were short on rings, so I went to our jewelry box and started looking for some. We must have some sort of rings, I exclaimed.
But Ultimately Decided to Not Have Children Together
Although Tomlin claims to have children was never an “aspiration” of hers, the couple did at one point think about starting a family. Tomlin explained to The Guardian in 2015, “[Jane] has a very gorgeous nephew, and we thought, ‘Well, we could obtain his sperm and I could bear his child’.”
“In hindsight, we regularly express our gratitude for not having children. I don’t even want to think about having to raise a child when I consider the state of the world right now. However, Tomlin openly declared on The Johnny Carson Show in 1973 that he didn’t want to have children, which was a major deal at the time.
“That’s off the scale if you didn’t want to get married or have kids. In 2013, Tomlin described what was perceived by Vanity Fair as a feminist moment: “So the audience just turned dead silent.
Tomlin made a joke to ease the tension. “I responded by saying, “Well, I enjoy kids, but I don’t want to have kids. Also, who is in charge of yours? Everyone then laughed. The immediate strain was reduced by it.
They’ve Been Together 50 Years Now
In her conversation with DeGeneres, Tomlin reaffirmed the historic figure. Their formula for enduring love? Respect and mutual admiration, she said, according to People. Wagner always needs to be reminded of appointments and would rather stay indoors and read whereas.
Tomlin likes to keep a schedule and enjoys gardening, but despite their differences, they have always complemented one another. Wagner told the Chicago Tribune in a 1994 interview that “we sincerely care about each other.” Tomlin said, “I love her. I don’t want her to have any negative outcomes.