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Roseanne Barr Timeline: From the National Anthem to Twitter, How She’s Always Courted Controversy

If only ABC had been given a sign that Barr might self-destruct. (Oh, that's right, there have been plenty over the years.) Here are some of her more infamous moments.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5857906a)Roseanne BarrRoseanne Barr - 1989Portrait

Roseanne Barr in 1989

Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

To know Roseanne Barr is to know controversy. The outspoken comic has been a firebrand since the moment she stepped on the scene in the late 1980s, and the success of “Roseanne” perhaps only heightened her eccentric approach to the world.

But in recent years, Barr’s behavior has been amplified by social media, and she appears to have been caught under the spell of crazy, irrational conspiracy theories and lies. That’s led to plenty of offensive statements and combative behavior against anyone who challenges her online.

ABC had hoped that Barr was now in check. She was on her best behavior at the Television Critics Association press tour in January, and Disney/ABC TV president Ben Sherwood even felt comfortable enough to tease Barr’s outspokenness a few weeks ago at the network’s upfront presentation. When Barr joked that Sherwood was “the guy responsible for most of my tweets,” the exec noted that “I have absolutely nothing to do with Roseanne’s Twitter account,” and then showed a fake Tweet from her, calling him a “more handsome and rugged Ben Affleck with a better back tattoo.”

Sherwood and ABC aren’t laughing now. Of course, they probably should have known better to begin with. Even prior to this week, they knew Barr courted scandal. That’s occasionally been a good thing — like the time she fought ABC, and won, to include a same-sex kiss on her show.

But more often than not, it’s been a bit of a mess. Here’s a round up of some key controversial Roseanne Barr moments.

The National Anthem Debacle (1990)

Barr Comedienne Roseanne Barr holds her fingers in her ears as she screams the National Anthem between games of the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds doubleheader on in San Diego, Calif. She was booed loudly and she made an obscene gesture and spat when she was finishedROSEANNE BARR NATIONAL ANTHEM, SAN DIEGO, USA

Roseanne Barr holds her fingers in her ears as she screams the National Anthem between games of the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds doubleheader on in San Diego, Calif.

JOAN FAHRENTHOLD/AP/REX/Shutterstock

 

This seems so quaint now: In 1990, Carsey-Werner principal Tom Werner was part owner of the San Diego Padres, and thought a tie-in with his hit comedy “Roseanne” would be a good idea. Barr was tapped to sing the National Anthem, but took an off-key, comedic approach to it. She was booed loudly and she made an obscene gesture and spat when she was finished, causing a national incident — with President George H.W. Bush even weighing in.

Marriage to Tom Arnold (1990-1994)

Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold Wedding PortraitArchive imageJune 23, 1991 - Los Angeles, CARoseanne Barr and Tom Arnold Wedding Portrait .Photo®Berliner Studio/BEImages

Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold Wedding Portrait, June 1991

BEI/REX/Shutterstock

This guy. Barr and Tom Arnold married in 1990, and divorced in 1994. “She is having mental health issues right now,” Arnold told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. “And I am sure that’s part of this. It doesn’t make it OK.”

Roseanne Clashes… With Everyone (1988-1996)

Jeff Harris letter, 1990

Variety

It’s still well known that Barr once went off the rails after a USA Today review by TV critic Matt Roush, calling him “a cocksucking pinhead, butt-rammer, fucking bitch.” Her tirades against the show’s producers were legendary, forcing show creator Matt Williams out after the first 13 episodes. Executive producer Jeff Harris famously ran the above ad in Variety in 1990, noting that he was quitting to enjoy a more peaceful vacation in Beirut.

“Roseanne” Features Same-Sex Kiss (1994)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1603091a)Roseanne , Roseanne Barr, Mariel HemingwayFilm and Television

Roseanne Barr, Mariel Hemingway on “Roseanne”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

 

Unfortunately threatened in this current media firestorm is the legacy of the original “Roseanne” series as a groundbreaking, daring sitcom. The show earned applause in 1994 for the episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in which Roseanne reacts to being kissed by another woman (Mariel Hemingway). ABC almost didn’t air the episode, until Arnold revealed the network’s hesitation, and Barr threatened to move the show to another network. The episode eventually ran uncensored, but with a parental advisory.

“The Roseanne Show” Talk Show Gets Weird (1998-2000)

ROSEANNE Roseanne throws a dummy, made up as Linda Tripp, to the audience while riding on a cherry picker adorned with roses during the first taping of her new talk show "Roseanne", in Los Angeles. Earlier, Roseanne and actress Nora Dunn performed a skit with Dunn playing the part of Tripp. The show's scheduled premier is Monday, Sept. 14ROSEANNE, LOS ANGELES, USA

Roseanne throws a dummy, made up as Linda Tripp, to the audience while riding on a cherry picker adorned with roses during the first taping of her new talk show “Roseanne Show,” in 1998.

MARK J. TERRILL/AP/REX/Shutterstock

 

ROSEANNE GOLDBERG Roseanne, right, grabs Whoopi Goldberg during a heated conversation about President Clinton's troubles during the first taping of her new talk show "Roseanne", in Los Angeles. The show's scheduled premiere is Monday, Sept. 14ROSEANNE, LOS ANGELES, USA

Roseanne Barr grabs Whoopi Goldberg during a heated conversation about President Clinton’s troubles during the first taping of her new talk show “Roseanne Show,” in 1998.

MARK J. TERRILL/AP/REX/Shutterstock

 

“The Roseanne Show,” 2000

YouTube

 

You think the antics on “Roseanne” were strange? Try her syndicated talk show “Roseanne Show,” which aired from 1998-2000, and fully leaned into Barr’s eccentricity. By Season 2, the show had been canceled and pulled off the air in most of the United States. But through a quirk of international distribution, new episodes continued to be produced to fulfill overseas contracts, and some small TV markets wound up still carrying the show as well. At that point, with no one really caring anymore, Barr was even given more free reign — and would often just host the show from her own royal throne (with a crown!) and talk stream of consciousness — often leading to dead air, as she sat there waiting for a thought to pop.

Roseanne Dabbles In All Sorts of Merchandise (2000s)

EXCLUSIVE DO NOT SEND TO NATIONAL ENQUIRER OR AMERICA MEDIA PAPERSMandatory Credit: Photo by STEWART COOK/REX/Shutterstock (397248c)ROSEANNE BARR PROMOTING HER NEW PASTA SAUCEROSEANNE BARR AT HER TV PRODUCTION STUDIO IN EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA, AMERICA - 29 OCT 2002

Roseanne Barr promotes her new pasta sauce, October 2002

STEWART COOK/REX/Shutterstock

 

Roseanne BarrROSEANNE BARR 'ROCKIN' WITH ROSEANNE' DVD LAUNCH, LOS ANGELES, AMERICA - 02 FEB 2006

Roseanne Barr promotes her kids DVD “Rockin with Roseanne,” February 2006

Borislav Stanic/REX/Shutterstock

Roseanne Barr, entrepreneur: It’s doubtful this pasta sauce or DVD did much business, but a reminder that plenty of opportunities came Barr’s way, long after “Roseanne” ended.

Roseanne Poses as Hitler (2009)

Barr later claimed she was mocking Hitler in this photo shoot. But… does that make it OK?

“Roseanne’s Nuts” Tells It Like It Is (2011)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lifetime TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5875419a)Roseanne BarrRoseanne's Nuts - 2011Lifetime TelevisionUSATelevision

“Roseanne’s Nuts,” Lifetime series from 2011

Lifetime TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Barr’s mental instability was played for laughs in the title of her short-lived Lifetime reality series “Roseanne’s Nuts” in 2011. The show followed Barr as she opened a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Roseanne Runs For President (2012)

Actress Roseanne Barr, left, and her campaign manager Farheen Hakeen attend the Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of "Roseanne For President!" at the SVA Theatre, in New York2015 Tribeca Film Festival - "Roseanne For President!" Premiere, New York, USA

Roseanne Barr, and her campaign manager Farheen Hakeen attend the Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of “Roseanne For President!” in 2015

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Barr announced her intentions on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to run for president in 2012 on the Green Party ticket, but ultimately lost the nomination to Jill Stein. She then switched to the Peace and Freedom Party, running with political activist Cindy Sheehan — although the two of them clashed, and ultimately Sheehan left the ticket. Barr only appeared on ballots in a handful of states, and ultimately won 67,326 votes nationwide. Barr’s run eventually inspired the 2015 documentary “Roseanne For President!”

Roseanne’s Unhinged Twitter Storm (Present)

Twitter

Roseanne Barr has now become a full disciple of crazy and easily debunked far right-wing conspiracy theories. She’s out Alex Jones-ing Alex Jones. And her Twitter feed is a full blown example of that — including the regular use of “ape” as a slur against people of color. Barr is troubled — but that’s not a new thing. And that’s why it was probably inevitable that the “Roseanne” revival would collapse.

The Quick Rebirth and Death of “Roseanne” (2018)

Roseanne Barr arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Roseanne" on in Burbank, CalifLA Premiere of "Roseanne", Burbank, USA - 23 Mar 2018

Roseanne Barr arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Roseanne” in March 2018

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“This is what ABC was buying and they knew it going in,” veteran TV writer Ken Levine wrote on his blog. “But the potential upside was huge. I suspect their hope was they could get in a couple of years before the inevitable implosion. But unchecked craziness doesn’t get better over time; it gets worse.”

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