The unlikely sage: Roseanne: Comedian is older, wiser and believe it or not pretty mellow

In her television studio in El Segundo, Roseanne Barr is singing the Israeli national anthem — and it’s good.

“If I asked you to sing ‘Hatikvah,’ would you slug me?” I had asked her hesitantly, remembering her screeching a mangled version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a baseball game in 1990.

Roseanne responded with a look of genuine shock. Of course she would sing it, she said, even though, she added, “I haven’t practiced it and I do forget a lot of the words.” But then she began crooning the Hebrew in a rich, vibrating alto, carefully pausing before the high notes, crescendoing to a heartfelt peak — before stopping midsong.

“The rest is really hard,” she explained. “The only songs I can sing really good are the Hebrew songs of my childhood.”

Even so, Roseanne, at 58, comes off more like a Jewish wise woman than the sardonic “domestic goddess” who transformed her blue-collar feminist comedy into a hit sitcom, “Roseanne,” from 1988 to 1997. Now a grandmother of five, she’s wearing her salt-and-pepper hair long, with stylish red glasses and little makeup. And even after leaving Los Angeles for a simpler life in Hawaii ….


Roseanne Barr photo/ap/jeff christensen

Naomi Pfefferman

L.A. Jewish Journal