Jane Wagner

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Jane Wagner was so cute when she made her career-leaping-teleplay “J.T.” into a TV movie back in 1969 that when the play ran too long, she asked the producer to “cut some of the commercials.”

Not many blondes, no matter how adorable, can win the Peabody Award their first time out.  This show drew her to the attention of Lily Tomlin, who wanted help developing her “Laugh-In” character Edith Ann. The creative alliance between writer and actor has lasted to this day.

Jane was born and raised in Tennessee and showed early acting skills. At 15, she won a scholarship to Barter Theatre in Virginia where her first role was Laura in “The Glass Menagerie.” The following summer she did Shakespeare where she drew criticism for her southern accent. At 17, she left to become an actor in New York.  Instead, she somehow found work as a designer and creative consultant.  For Fieldcrest, she created and designed the innovative “Teach me, Read me” sheets, exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum.

But the longer Jane lives, the further she takes herself behind the scenes. She has been nominated for nine Emmy Awards, won three of them, and a Writer’s Guild of America prize. She also took a second Peabody for “Edith Ann’s Christmas:  Just Say Noël.” She wrote the screenplay and executive produced “The Incredible Shrinking Woman.”  When Lily Tomlin was given the Mark Twain Prize in Washington, D.C. recently, she directed most of her gratitude for this honor to Jane.

Although Jane won the N.Y. Drama Critics’ Circle and the N.Y. Drama Desk awards for her Broadway play “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” most civilized people in the western world feel she was robbed by not receiving the Pulitzer for creation of this long-running hit, which starred and proved to be actor Lily Tomlin’s greatest achievement on the stage.

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