These are the funniest women ever from Films and TV.
Not in any order.
The woman who will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents...
The middle of seven children, she was named after the S.S. Rosalind at the suggestion of her father, a successful lawyer. After receiving a Catholic school education, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934...
Roseanne Barr's story is one of the most controversial of any actresses. She dropped out of high school when she was 17 years old. After a car accident, she was admitted to a mental institution, claiming she was having nightmares and memory loss. She left the institute less than a year later. Soon after...
Jennifer Saunders was born July 6th 1958 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, UK. She attended Central School of Speech and Drama where she met her comedy partner Dawn French
. Like many of the early 80s groundbreaking "alternative" comedians she began her career as comedienne/actress/writer with Dawn French at "The Comedy Store" in London...
Goldie Jeanne Hawn was born in Washington D.C., to Laura Hawn
(née Steinhoff), a jewelry shop/dance school owner, and Rut Hawn
(Edward Rutledge Hawn), a band musician. She has a sister, Patti Hawn
, and a brother, Edward, who died before she was born. She was raised in the Jewish religion...
Judy Holliday was born Judith Tuvim in New York City on June 21, 1921. Her mother, a piano teacher, was attending a play when she went into labor and made it to the hospital just in time. Judy was an only child. By the age of four, her mother had her enrolled in ballet school which fostered a life-long interest in show business...
Margaret Cho was born Dec. 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. Her grandfather was a Methodist minister who ran an orphanage in Seoul during the Korean War. Ignoring the traditions of her patriarchal culture, her mother bravely resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret's father who writes joke books - in Korean...
Actress-comedienne Bea Arthur was born on May 13, 1922 in New York City to a Jewish family. She grew up in Maryland, where her parents ran a dress shop. At 12 years old, she was the tallest girl in her school at 5'9". She earned the title "wittiest" girl in her school, and Bea's dream was to be in show business...
Diane Keaton was born Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, to Dorothy Deanne (Keaton), an amateur photographer, and John Newton Ignatius "Jack" Hall, a civil engineer and real estate broker. Her ancestry includes Irish, English, German, and Scottish. Keaton studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York...
Francine Joy Drescher was born on September 30th, 1957 in Flushing, Queens, New York to Mort Drescher
and Sylvia Drescher
. Fran, as she is called, attended Hillcrest High school in New York with another now-famous name, Ray Romano
. She was a studious girl and was quite popular. In fact, at age fifteen...
Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was born in 1970 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, to Xenobia "Jeanne" (Xenakes), a brokerage employee, and Donald Henry Fey, who wrote grant proposals for universities. Her mother is Greek, born in Piraeus, while her father had German, Northern Irish, and English ancestry...
She was born Vivian Roberta Jones, with a brother and four sisters. After the family moved from Cherryvale to Independence, Kansas, she studied drama under Anna Ingleman and William Inge
. Their next move, to Albuquerque, New Mexico brought her to the Albuquerque Little Theatre, which provided her the money she needed to study under Eva Le Gallienne
in New York...
Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty
, was born on March 30, 1937. Her ancestry includes English and Scottish...
Joanna Lumley was born in Kashmir, India, on 1st May 1946. Her father was a major in the Gurkha Rifles, and she spent most of her early childhood in the Far East where her father was posted. An aspiring actress, she first came to fame as a model in London's swinging 1960s, where she was photographed by the greats...
Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Marjorie (Hackett) and George Tyler Moore, a clerk. Her maternal grandparents were English immigrants, and her father was of English, Irish, and German descent. Moore's family relocated to California when she was eight. Her childhood was troubled...
When Ruth Gordon convinced her father, a sea captain, to let her pursue acting she came to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She acted in a few silents made at Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1915. She made her Broadway debut in "Peter Pan" as Nibs the same year. The next 20 years she spent on stage...
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopi's recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway...
For decades, Brit actress and comedienne Julie Walters has served as a sturdy representation of the working class with her passionate, earthy portrayals on England's stage, screen and TV. A bona fide talent, her infectious spirit and self-deprecating sense of humor eventually captured the hearts of international audiences...
Amy Meredith Poehler was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to high school teachers Eileen Frances (Milmore) and William Grinstead Poehler. Her brother is comedian Greg Poehler
. She is of Irish (from her mother) and English, German, and Portuguese (from her father) descent. Amy was first involved with sketch comedy when she joined the group My Mother's Flea Bag when she was attending Boston College...
Betty Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan. Two years later Betty's father decided that the family way of life wasn't for him, so he left (he committed suicide 16 years later). Having to fend for themselves, Mrs. Thornburg moved the family to Detroit to find work in the numerous auto factories there...
Jane Therese Curtin was born September 6th, 1947. Years later, a 27-year-old Jane Curtin auditioned for a comedy variety show. which turned out to be the the thing that would first expose her to fame, Saturday Night Live
. Jane won the audition against Mimi Kennedy
, a tough competitor. Also in the same year (1975), she married Patrick Lynch
was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday, November 29th, 1976, to Karen (Bathurst), a special education teacher, and Jack Faris, a sociologist. Her ancestry includes English, German, Scottish, French, Dutch, and Welsh. Anna started acting very young but not professionally. She loved...
The indefatigable nonagenarian finally put out an autobiography in 2005 and entitled it "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse", which pretty much says it all when recalling the misfit life and career of the fabulous, one-of-a-kind Phyllis Diller. It may inspire all those bored, discouraged and/or directionless...
Making people laugh is only one facet of Valerie Harper's career, which extends from the stage to television and feature films. A native of Suffern, New York -- "I was born to suffer" -- Harper began her career as a dancer with the corps de ballet at Radio City Hall during its spectacular heyday. She gradually moved into acting...
Gilda Radner was one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th century, ranked up with Lucille Ball
and other comedy legends of the highest caliber. She was born on June 28, 1946, in Detroit, Michigan, the younger of two children of Henrietta (Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a businessman...
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...
Her father was a minister, and when she joined a local stock company as a youngster she changed her name to avoid embarrassing her family. She worked in vaudeville and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her film debut was in A House Divided
. She repeated her stage role in Dead End
as Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart
The entertainment world has enjoyed a five-decade love affair with comedienne/singer Carol Burnett. A peerless sketch performer and delightful, self-effacing personality who rightfully succeeded Lucille Ball
as the carrot-topped "Queen of Television Comedy," it was Burnett's traumatic childhood that set the stage for her comedy...
Kathy Najimy was born and raised in San Diego, California. She is the daughter of Samia (Massery) and Fred Najimy, a postal worker, both of Lebanese ancestry. Kathy attended Crawford High School, and began her film career in the early 1990s, with several minor roles. Kathy got her breakthrough screen role as "Sister Mary Patrick" in Sister Act
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Christine Tess (Cachikis), a homemaker, and Horace Logan White, a lighting company executive. She is of Danish, Greek, English, and Welsh descent. Although best known as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on the classic sitcom Mary Tyler Moore
and the ditzy Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls
Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood boys by a film director...
Wanda Sykes has been called one of the funniest stand-up comics by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's 25 Funniest People in America. Her smart-witted stand-up has sent her career in many different areas. She was recently seen in Comedy Central's Wanda Does It
, where she tried various non-showbiz jobs...
Teri Garr can claim a career in show business by birthright. She was born in Lakewood, Ohio, the daughter of Eddie Garr
(born Edward Leo Gonnoud), a Broadway stage and film actor, and Phyllis Garr
(née Emma Schmotzer), a dancer. Her maternal grandparents were Austrian, and her father was of Irish descent...
Two-time Emmy Award winner Sarah Silverman is one of the most versatile talents in entertainment, with credits including that of actress, creator, writer, executive producer, comedian, and author. Silverman will next be seen in both The Book of Henry and The Lonely Island's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping...
Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera singer and starred in several campus productions...
Cheri Oteri was born on 19th September 1962, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, graduating from Archbishop Prendergast High School, then moved to Los Angeles when she was 25, where she worked in Promotions for A&M records for 4 years, and joined up with the Groundlings...
The record-breaking actress set a record when at age 82, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars
. Cloris Leachman was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa to Berkeley Claiborne "Buck" Leachman and the former Cloris Wallace. Her father's family owned a lumber company, Leachman Lumber Co. She is of Czech (from her maternal grandmother) and English descent...
Parker Posey was born 2 months premature in Baltimore, Maryland, to Lynda (Patton) and Chris Posey. The family moved to Monroe, La. and then Laurel, Mississippi, where Chris became owner of Laurel's own Posey Chevrolet. Parker attended high school at R. H. Watkins High School in Laurel, Mississippi...
Dubbed "the funniest woman in the world", comedienne Beatrice Lillie was born the daughter of a Canadian government official and grew up in Toronto. She sang in a family trio act with her mother, Lucy, and her piano-playing older sister, Muriel. Times were hard and the ambitious mother eventually took the girls to England to test the waters...
Chelsea Handler was born in Livingston, New Jersey, to a Mormon mother, Rita (Stoecker), who was born in Germany, and an American-born Jewish father, Seymour Handler. She was the youngest of six children. In 2002, Chelsea was one of the stars of Oxygen's Girls Behaving Badly
. Chelsea got her start doing stand-up comedy...
Laurie Metcalf was born June 16, 1955 in Carbondale, Illinois, the oldest of three children of Libby (Mars), a librarian, and James Metcalf, a budget director. She was raised in Edwardsville, Illinois. Laurie attended Illinois State University, where she obtained her bachelor of arts in theater in 1977...
Jennifer Coolidge is a versatile character actress and experimental comedienne, best known for playing Stifler's mom in American Pie
. She was born on August 28, 1961, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to Gretchen (Knauff) and Paul Constant Coolidge, a plastics manufacturer. Young Coolidge was dreaming of becoming a singer...
Maya Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Florida, on July 27th, 1972, to Dick Rudolph
, a music producer, and soul singer Minnie Riperton
. Her mother was African-American and her father is Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Lithuania, Russia, Germany, and Hungary). In 1973, Maya, her parents, and her older brother...
Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb. She is the daughter of Betty DeGeneres
(née Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer), a speech therapist, and Elliott Everett DeGeneres, an insurance agent. Her brother is musician and producer Vance DeGeneres
. Her parents divorced when she was sixteen years old...
Famed actress, comedian, singer, and dancer Vicki Lawrence has appeared in television shows, on Broadway and in nightclubs. Her career included shows with such popular actors as Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, and Tim Conway. Lawrence was born Vicki Ann Axelrad in Inglewood, California, to Ann Alene (Loyd) and Howard Axelrad...
Mary Woronov was born on December 8, 1943, at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida (some sources cite New York as her birthplace). She was raised by her mother, Carol (Eschholz), and her stepfather, Victor D. Woronov, a surgeon, who adopted her. She grew up in Brooklyn Heights and attended Cornell University as a sculpting major...
The daughter of tax specialist S. J. Lasser, comedy actress Louise Lasser must have started off lightening things up considerably in her own household. She first won notice singing in Greenwich Village dives, improvisational revues and on Broadway in the early 1960s. Probably best known as the second Mrs...
Best known for her role as Aunt Esther Anderson on "Sanford And Son", she appeared in many films including "Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood" (1996), "Friday" (1995), "The Legend of Dolemite" (1994), "West From North Goes South" (1993), "The Meteor Man" (1993)...
Mia Farrow was born in Los Angeles, California, to director John Farrow
and actress and Tarzan-girl Maureen O'Sullivan
. Her father was Australian-born (of English descent) and her mother was Irish-born (of Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry). Farrow debuted at the movies in 1959 in very small roles...
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson. A frequently overlooked detail is that although born June 1, 1926, she was not born in Los Angeles, California but actually in Lemmon, South Dakota. Her mother was an alcoholic and in a custody battle over Norma Jean with her father when she was about 4-5 years old...
A New York stage actress in the 1950s, McClanahan was plucked from the stage by Norman Lear
for roles on All in the Family
and later Maude
. For two years (1982 - 1984), she played "Aunt Fran" on Mama's Family
until her character was killed off and she joined the cast of Golden Girls. She hit her comedic stride as a sharp tongued oversexed Southern belle on The Golden Girls
Kathy Griffin was raised in the near-west Chicago suburbs, in an Irish-American family. She has three older brothers and an older sister. When her parents retired to California, Kathy moved west with them after graduating from Oak Park River Forest High School and began trying to break into show business...
Eve was born just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley and was interested in show business from an early age. At 16, she made her stage debut after quitting school to joined a stock company. After appearing in minor roles in two films under her real name, Eunice Quedens, she found that the stage offered her the same minor roles...
Aisha Tyler born September 18, 1970 is an American talk show host, actress, comedian, author, producer, writer, and director. She is known for portraying Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer, voicing Lana Kane in Archer, and portraying Mother Nature in the Santa Clause film series, as well as recurring roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Talk Soup.
Whether portraying a glum, withering wallflower, a drab and dowdy housewife, a klutzy maid or a cynical gossip, eccentric character comedienne Alice Ghostley had the ability to draw laughs from the skimpiest of material with a simple fret or whine. Making a name for herself on the Tony-winning Broadway stage...
Singing funny girl Kaye Ballard was born to perform...and perform she has in a career now broaching seven decades. With a strong comedy background and tunnel mouth to rival Martha Raye
, the broad and bouncy trouper has drawn laughs on the musical stage, in night clubs, in recordings and on TV. As the archetypal over-emotive...
Nicole Sullivan studied theatre at Northwestern University, and graduated on the Deans List. After moving to LA, her career started in 1995 when she beat out many hundreds of people for a starring role on the sketch comedy show, MADtv
. The show became a big hit and Nicole was one of the breakout stars of the show...
Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street
. In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short scene was noticed by Darryl F. Zanuck
who insisted her role be expanded...
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and unable to hold a job...
Renée Taylor was born in the Bronx, New York to Frieda (née Silverstein) and Charles Wexler. She worked as a comedian in the early 1960s at the New York City nightclub Bon Soir. Her opening act was a then unknown Barbra Streisand
. She earned notice for her portrayal of Eva Braun
in Mel Brooks
's The Producers
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped by her father several times until her mother took him to court...
Lainie Kazan was born Lainie Levine in Brooklyn, New York, to Carole (Kazan) and Ben Levine. She graduated from Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Her film career began in Dayton's Devils
, starring alongside Leslie Nielsen
. Later, Lainie was nominated a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture for her performance in My Favorite Year
Rose Marie is a legend of show business with a career stretching over 80 years since her debut as her self in a Vitaphone musical short that appeared on the bill with The Jazz Singer
at its premiere in 1927. According to Rose Marie, when she approached Al Jolson
at The Wintergarden Theater in New York on the night of the premiere that made movie history and told him...
Ruth Buzzi was Born July 24, 1936 in South County (Westerly), Rhode Island to Rena Pauline and Angelo Peter Buzzi, a nationally recognized stone sculptor. She Raised in Wequetequock, Connecticut, and attended Stonington High School. She Gained experience as a cheerleader performing before crowds at athletic events...
Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards,...
One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland
was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals. She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Minnesota...
Love her or hate her, this comic diva is a one-of-a-kind, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners artiste. Racy, confrontational, offensive, cynical, off-putting and angst-ridden to a T, this flinty stand-up from Flint, Michigan was born on June 6, 1955, the daughter of Jerome Bernhard, a proctologist, and his wife Jeanette...
Messing was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish American parents, Sandra (née Simons), who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a jewelry manufacturer. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother...
Julie Hagerty's unique personality and talent likely would have been better served had she worked under the Hollywood studio system. As it is, her place in cinema history is secure with her role of stewardess Elaine Dickinson in the comedy classic Airplane!
. Hagerty should have evolved into a latter-day Jean Arthur
, or become a highly valued supporting player a la Zasu Pitts
Before becoming known to millions as Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies
, Irene Ryan was already an established vaudeville, radio and movie actress, though not as famous prior to her television stint. She accompanied Bob Hope on his famous military tours and she was known as "the gal who makes Bob Hope laugh." After being cast as Granny...
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker was born March 25, 1965, in Nelsonville, Ohio, to Barbra Forste (née Keck), a teacher who ran a nursery school, and Stephen Parker, a journalist. Her parents divorced, and her mother later remarried to Paul Forste and had four more children, bringing the total to eight. Sarah now had 3 full siblings and 4 half siblings...
Shelley Lee Long was born at 7:15 am on Tuesday, August 23, 1949 in Indian Village, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, the only child of Ivadine (Williams), a schoolteacher, and Leland Long, a teacher who had previously worked in the rubber industry. Shelley attended school at Kekionga Junior High for grades 6-9 and at South Side High School for grades 10-12...
Actress Joan Cusack was born in New York City, New York, and is the daughter of Nancy (née Carolan) and Dick Cusack
. Her father was an advertising executive, writer and actor, and her mother was a math teacher. Her siblings - Susie Cusack
, John Cusack
, Ann Cusack
and Bill Cusack
also act. Her family is of Irish descent...
Jean Stapleton was born Jeanne Murray in Manhattan, New York City, to Marie A. (Stapleton), an opera singer, and Joseph Edward Murray, a billboard advertising salesman. Her paternal grandparents were Irish. She was a cousin of actress Betty Jane Watson
. Other relatives in show business were her uncle...
Jackée Harry was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and reared from the age of nine in Harlem, New York, by her mother, Flossie. At the tender age of fourteen, Jackée landed the lead role of the King in her school's production of The King and I. Upon graduation from New York City's High School of Music and Art with a distinction in Opera...
Suzanne Pleshette achieved television immortality in her role as Bob Newhart
's wife in the 1970s classic situation comedy, The Bob Newhart Show
. For her role as "Emily Hartley", wife of psychologist "Bob Hartley" (played by Bob Newhart
), Pleshette was nominated for the Emmy Award twice, in 1977 and 1978...
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens
and to playwright Beverley Cross
Jo Anne Worley
This tall (with piled-on jet-black hair), attractive, tunnel-mouthed comedienne is a one-of-a-kind commodity and certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to entertaining. Unapologetically, she adores the center stage...and vice versa -- the stage loves her. Like several of her Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Isabel Sanford was a Broadway actress for over thirty years before moving to Hollywood. She made numerous guest appearances on TV, including a stint as a supporting cast member on The Carol Burnett Show
. Until her passing, Isabel continued to act frequently, most recently in a series of commercials for Old Navy stores with The Jeffersons
Cute as a button and with a petite, porcelain prettiness and vulnerability that endeared her to the American public, Sally Struthers nabbed a series role in the early 1970s and became a solid part of TV history as a member of a dysfunctional family quartet in the milestone sitcom, All in the Family
. She was born Sally Ann Struthers on July 28...
Carol Kane was born Carolyn Laurie Kane on June 18, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Elaine Joy (Fetterman), a jazz singer and pianist, and Michael Myron Kane, an architect. Her family is Jewish (from Russia, Poland, and Austria). Due to her parents' divorce, Carol spent most of her childhood in boarding schools...