Lily Tomlin was born September 1, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, to Lillie Mae (Ford) and Guy Tomlin, who moved to Michigan from Paducah, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Her mother was a nurse's aide and her father was a factory worker. She graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1957, and later enrolled at Wayne State University. She began career by doing stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Detroit and New York City. Her first television appearance was on "The Merv Griffin Show". She went on to have astronomical success with several characters, notably Ernestine, a nosy, condescending telephone operator who generally treated customers with little sympathy and regard, on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967). Other notable characters are in film include Linnea Reese, a gospel-singing mother of two deaf children who has an affair with a womanizing country singer (played by (Keith Carradine) in Robert Altman's Nashville (1975), a performance for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Violet Newstead who joins her on-screen coworkers (played by Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton) in seeking revenge on their monstrous and sexist boss, Franklin M. Hart Jr., (played by Dabney Coleman) in the comedy 9 to 5 (1980), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), Doreen Piggot in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), Cher's best-friend and American compatriot Georgie Rockwell in Tea with Mussolini (1999), deadpan private investigator, and existentialist Vivian Jaffe in I Heart Huckabees (2004), and Country-Western singer Rhonda Johnson in Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006).
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