I-95s Exit 22b a in MA To: Grove St & Newton, Wellesley MA
Funny girl Jane Curtin grew up in upcoming Wellesley, Massachusetts, where, as a good Catholic girl, she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart. That is the sister school from which Lady Gaga graduated - albeit Gaga attended The Sacred Heart in Manhattan. Perhaps it was there that Jane perfected her stone faced reactions to outrageous statements. The "straight man" in countless over-the-top skits that assaulted her female sex and personal dignity, Jane later became famous as “The Queen of Deadpan”.
In a Hollywood Reporter article in 2019, she reflected on sexism and misogyny in TV. If any comedian has a perspective on the excesses of the industry, it's Jane.
You see, Jane in 1975 was with John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, and Bill Murray in the freshman class of "Saturday Night Live". She was an original member of the so-called "Not Ready For Prime Time Players”. Thanks to this high testosterone ensemble, the show was an explosive success — a success soaked in sex, drugs, shock, and yes, misogyny.
A lot of the humor was sexist. And behind the scenes, it was surprisingly no less enlightened. This secretly irked the young actress. While all of the male cast members got their own dressing rooms, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman had to share.
Says Jane in the Hollywood Reporter in 2019, “It was a different time. It was stunning because in the improv group I came from in Cambridge, Massachusetts, there was no sexism. We were all equals. We all respected each other. But by the time I got to Saturday Night Live the Equal Rights Amendment didn't pass, which was stunning to me. And I go into this world where they hadn't even discussed an Equal Rights Amendment. It wasn't a part of their life; it didn't affect them. So they were still continuing in that late '50s, early '60s kind of culture. They hadn't evolved yet.”
But SNL was nothing if not disrespectful equally to everyone. Minorities as well as women got short work. On Weekend Update segments, Curtin's newscaster introduced baseball expert Chico Escuela played by African American comic, Garrett Morris. In heavily accented Spanglais, Chico repeated his famous catchphrase, “Baseball been bery, bery good to me!”
Can Jane Curtin say the same thing about her years on SNL— that SNL had been berry berry good to her. Likely yes.
In the years since, Jane got to choose her own career path and has won a pair of Emmy Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on the 1980s sitcom “Kate & Allie”. Jane later starred opposite John Lithgow in the hit series “3rd Rock from the Sun”. Plus she did dabble in films reprising her SNL skit as a feature in "Coneheads".
Then as now, Jane chose TV over film because she enjoyed regular 8 hour work days. Probably in reaction to all the chaos of SNL, the lady from Wellesley chose to go home every night to spend quality time with her husband and daughter. Seems the "Queen of Dead Pan" was just as comfortable with a frying pan all along.
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