Jane Curtin

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Jane Curtin
Jane Curtin 1989.jpg
Curtin in 1989
Jane Therese Curtin

(1947-09-06) September 6, 1947 (age 76)
Education Elizabeth Seton College (AA)
Northeastern University
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1971–present
Known for
Patrick Lynch
(m. 1975)
Relatives Valerie Curtin (cousin)

Jane Therese Curtin (born September 6, 1947) [1] is an American actress and comedian.


First coming to prominence as an original cast member on the hit TV comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1975, she went on to win back-to-back Emmy Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on the 1980s sitcom Kate & Allie portraying the role of Allison "Allie" Lowell. Curtin later starred in the hit series 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001), playing the role of Dr. Mary Albright.

Curtin has also appeared in many movie roles, including Charlene in The Librarian series of movies (2004–2008). She reprised one of her Saturday Night Live characters, Prymaat (Clorhone) Conehead, in the 1993 film Coneheads . She is sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Deadpan". [2] The Philadelphia Inquirer once called her a "refreshing drop of acid". [3] She was included on a 1986 list of the "Top Prime Time Actors and Actresses of All Time". [4]

Early life

Jane Therese Curtin was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, [5] the second of three children born to Mary Constance (née Farrell) and John Joseph Curtin, who owned an insurance agency. [6] Her maternal ancestry is Irish, [7] while the paternal, Curtin, ancestry is Irish, [8] originally from Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare. Curtin has one younger brother, Larry Curtin, who lives in South Florida; [9] and an older brother, John J. "Jack" Curtin (d. 2008). [10] Curtin is a cousin of actress and writer Valerie Curtin. Her uncle was the radio personality Joseph Curtin.

She was raised Roman Catholic, and grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She graduated from Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Newton in 1965. Curtin earned an associate degree from Elizabeth Seton Junior College in New York City, class of 1967. [11] She then attended Northeastern University from 1967 to 1968 before dropping out of college to pursue a career in comedy. [5]


She has served as a U.S. Committee National Ambassador for UNICEF. In 1968, Curtin decided to pursue comedy as a career and dropped out of college. She joined a comedy group, The Proposition, and performed with them until 1972. She starred in Pretzels, an off-Broadway play written by Curtin, John Forster, Judith Kahan, and Fred Grandy, in 1974.

Saturday Night Live

One of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players of NBC's Saturday Night Live (1975), Curtin remained on the show through the 1979–1980 season. Guest host Eric Idle said that Curtin was "very much a 'Let's come in, let's know our lines, let's do it properly, and go' ... She was very sensible, very focused", and disliked the drug culture in which many of the cast participated. Show writer Al Franken stated that she "was so steady. Had a really strong moral center, and as such was disgusted by much of the show and the people around it". [12]

On the show, and mirroring her own low-key real life, she frequently played straight-woman characters, often as a foil to John Belushi and Gilda Radner. Curtin anchored SNL's "Weekend Update" segment from 1976 to 1977, paired with Dan Aykroyd from 1977 to 1978 and Bill Murray from 1978 to 1980. On occasional "Weekend Update" segments, her newscaster character served as a foil to John Belushi, who often gave a rambling and out-of-control "commentary" on events of the day. During these sketches, she timidly tried to get Belushi to come to the point, which would only make him angrier. Curtin's newscaster also introduced baseball expert Chico Escuela (Garrett Morris), a heavily accented Dominican, who started his sketches by saying, "Thank you, Hane", before repeating his famous catchphrase, "Baseball been bery, bery good to me!" She also introduced Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner) and would listen in exasperated silence at Roseannadanna's disjointed commentary before ultimately cutting her off. In addition, she sang in the "Chevy's Girls" sketch in season two, episode two, alongside Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner.

In a parody of the "Point-Counterpoint" segment of the news program 60 Minutes , Curtin delivered a controlled liberal viewpoint (à la Shana Alexander) vs. Dan Aykroyd, who (in the manner of James J. Kilpatrick) epitomized the right-wing view, albeit with an over-the-top "attack" journalist slant. Curtin presented the liberal "Point" portion first. Then Aykroyd presented the "Counterpoint" portion, sometimes beginning with the statement, "Jane, you ignorant slut," to which she replied, "Dan, you pompous ass." The recurring segment has been discussed in an article on "How to Respectfully Disagree" in The Chronicle of Higher Education . [13]

Curtin is also well known for her role in the Conehead sketches as Prymaat (wife/mother of the Conehead family), and as Enid Loopner (in sketches with Gilda Radner and Bill Murray). She is one of many cast members who appear in the retrospective compilation DVD The Women of SNL (2010, 97 minutes). [14]

Later television work

Unlike many of her fellow SNL cast members who ventured successfully into film, Curtin chose to stay mainly in television, with a few sporadic film appearances. To date, she has starred in two long-running television sitcoms. First, in Kate & Allie (1984–89), with Susan Saint James, she played a single mother named "Allie Lowell" and twice won the Emmy Award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Following Kate & Allie, Curtin co-starred on the 1990 sitcom Working It Out with Stephen Collins. The series was created by Bill Persky, a writer, director, and producer of Kate & Allie, but it was not successful and was cancelled after 13 episodes. Later, she was part of the cast of 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001) playing a human, Dr. Mary Albright, opposite the alien family composed of John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As with SNL, her mostly strait-laced character was often confounded by the zany and whimsical antics of the Solomon family.

In 1997, Curtin narrated two episodes of the documentary television series Understanding , [15] and she has done voice work for Recess and Cyberchase . She guest starred on Sesame Street in 1985.

Curtin also starred with Fred Savage in the ABC sitcom Crumbs , which debuted in January 2006 and was cancelled in May of that year. She also guest-starred on Gary Unmarried as Connie, Allison's mother. [16] In 2012, she joined Unforgettable as Dr. Joanne Webster, a gifted but crusty medical examiner; in 2014, she occasionally reprised her role as the first Guardian on The Librarians . In 2020, she had a co-starring role as a quirky mother-in-law on the ABC sitcom United We Fall.


In 1980, Curtin starred with Susan Saint James and Jessica Lange in the moderate hit How to Beat the High Cost of Living . In 1993, Curtin and Dan Aykroyd were reunited in Coneheads, a full-length motion picture based on their popular SNL characters. They also appeared together as the voices of a pair of wasps in the film Antz. In 2009, she played Paul Rudd and Andy Samberg's mother in I Love You, Man . In 2013, she took a small role in The Heat as Mrs. Mullins, the mother of Detective Mullins. Curtin played Moira, the Headmistress of the Motherland, in Disney's Godmothered . [17]

Other work

Curtin has also performed on Broadway on occasion. She first appeared on the Great White Way as Miss Proserpine Garnett in the play Candida in 1981. She later went on to be a replacement actress in two other plays, Love Letters and Noises Off , and was in the 2002 revival of Our Town , which received huge press attention as Paul Newman returned to the Broadway stage after several decades away.

She also has narrated several audio books, including Carl Hiaasen's novel Nature Girl .

On May 7, 2010, Curtin placed second in the Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational , winning $250,000 for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Michael McKean won the tournament, while Cheech Marin came in third.

She presented Emmy Awards in 1984, 1987, and 1998; the 11th Annual American Comedy Awards in 1997; and the 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 1997. [18]

Curtin has guest hosted several episodes of Selected Shorts produced by Symphony Space and distributed by Public Radio International.

Personal life

She married television producer Patrick Francis Lynch on April 2, 1975; they have one daughter, Tess Curtin Lynch, born in 1983. [18] They live in Sharon, Connecticut.



1979 Mr. Mike's Mondo Video Herself/Cameo
1980 How to Beat the High Cost of Living Elaine
1987 O.C. and Stiggs Elinore Schwab
1993 Coneheads Prymatt Conehead/Mary Margaret DeCicco
1998 Antz MuffyVoice Only
2003 Recess: All Growed Down Additional VoicesVideo
2004 Geraldine's Fortune Geraldine Liddle
2005 Brooklyn Lobster Maureen Giorgio
2006 The Shaggy Dog Judge Claire Whittaker
2009 I Love You, Man Joyce Klaven
2011 I Don't Know How She Does It Marla Reddy
2013 The Heat Mrs. Mullins
2018 The Spy Who Dumped Me Carol Freeman
Can You Ever Forgive Me? Marjorie
2019 Ode to Joy Aunt Sylvia
2020 Godmothered Moira
2021 Queen Bees Janet
2023 Jules Joyce


1975–1980; 2015 Saturday Night Live VariousCast member (1975–1980) and a guest appearance on SNL 40th Anniversary Special
108 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
1977 The Love Boat Regina ParkerEpisode: "The Captain's Captain/Romance Roulette/Hounded (A Dog's Life)"
1977 What Really Happened to the Class of '65? IvyEpisode: "Class Hustler"
1981Bob & Ray, Jane, Laraine, & GildaHerselfTV movie
1982CandidaProssieTV movie
1982 Divorce Wars: A Love Story Vickey SturgessTV movie
1983 The Coneheads Prymaat (voice)TV short
1984BedroomsLauraTV movie
1984–1989 Kate & Allie Allison 'Allie' Lowell122 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1984–1985)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Performer (1984–1985)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1988 American Playhouse Lina McLaidlawEpisode: "Suspicion"
1988Maybe BabyJulia GilbertTV movie
1990Common GroundAlice McGoffTV movie
1990 Working It Out Sarah Marshall13 episodes
1994 Dave's World AnneEpisode: "Lost Weekend"
1995TadMary Todd LincolnTV movie
1995Mystery DanceSusan BakerEpisode: "1.1"
1996–2001 3rd Rock from the Sun Dr. Mary Albright 137 episodes
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
1998 Hercules Hippolyte (voice)Episode: "Hercules and the Girdle of Hippolyte"
1998 Recess Mrs. Clemperer (voice)Episode: "Wild Child"
2000Catch a Falling StarFranTV movie
2003 Cyberchase Lady Ada Byron Lovelace (voice)Episode: "Hugs and Witches"
2003 Our Town Mrs. WebbTV movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2004 The Librarian: Quest for the Spear CharleneTV movie
2006 Crumbs Suzanne Crumb13 episodes
2006 The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines CharleneTV movie
2007Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner OfficeJoyTV movie
2008 In the Motherhood MomEpisode: "Mother Dearest"
2008 The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice CharleneTV movie
2008–2009 Gary Unmarried Connie2 episodes
2009 Sherri Margo/Paula's MomEpisode: "Birth"
2010The Women of SNLVarious/Prymaat Conehead/Weekend UpdateTV movie; archive footage
2010 Rex Is Not Your Lawyer UnknownEpisode: "Pilot"
2011 The Oprah Winfrey Show Herself (guest)Episode: "Saturday Night Live Class Reunion"
2012–2014 Unforgettable Joanne Webster34 episodes
2014–2017 The Librarians Charlene5 episodes
2015 The Good Wife Judge FarleyEpisode: "Bond"
2017 Broad City MargoEpisode: "Witches"
2019–2021 The Good Fight Judge Pamela Farley3 episodes
2020 United We Fall Sandy Ryan8 episodes
2022 The Conners Doris GoldufskiEpisode: "The Dog Days of Christmas"
2023 Bupkis Marie LaRoccaEpisode: "Do as I Say, Not as I do"
TBA The Residence Upcoming series


1981 Candida Proserpine Garnett
1989 Love Letters Melissa GardnerReplacement
2002 Noises Off Dotty OtleyReplacement
2002 Our Town Mrs. Webb

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  1. Brady, James (March 25, 1990). "In Step With: Jane Curtin". The New York Daily News . p. 260. BORN: Sept. 6, 1947, in Cambridge, Mass.
  2. Cochran, Amanda (July 26, 2013). "'Queen of Deadpan' Jane Curtin on old school 'SNL'". CBS News . Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  3. Collins, William B. (October 17, 1981). "Midwestern Shaw – Why, Oh, Why Didn't They Leave Out Ohio?". The Philadelphia Inquirer . p. B11. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  4. Du Brow, Rick (August 8, 1986). "Who Are the Top Prime Time Actors and Actresses of All Time?". Times Union . Albany, NY. p. 15A. Archived from the original on July 3, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013. A quietly devastating performer amid all the scene-stealers on Saturday Night Live, Curtin was most memorable as the deadpan, long-suffering anchor on the show's "news updates". In Kate and Allie, she is demonstrating another hugely appealing facet of her remarkably versatile repertoire.
  5. 1 2 Rusoff, Jane Wollman (July 5, 1993). "Hollywood life consumes mass quantities of time for 'Coneheads' star Jane Curtin". The Baltimore Sun . Archived from the original on June 22, 2021.
  6. "Jane Curtin Biography (1947-)". filmreference.com.
  7. Schulman, Michael (February 17, 2019). "Jane Curtin Is Playing It Straight". The New Yorker . Archived from the original on February 21, 2019.
  8. Ancestry.com https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/63760849/person/132415173009/facts.{{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Talley, Jim (August 18, 1986). "Investors Star In Film Financing". Sun-Sentinel . Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  10. "John J. Curtin". Boston Herald . September 24, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  11. Glennon, Ivy. "Curtin, Jane". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013.
  12. "Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live". Saturday Night Live. February 20, 2005. NBC.
  13. Polk, Bryan; Seesholtz, Mel (October 25, 2009). "Two Professors, One Valuable Lesson: How to Respectfully Disagree" . The Chronicle of Higher Education . Washington, D.C. 56 (10). Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  14. The Women of SNL (DVD). Broadway Video; SNL Studios. November 1, 2010. OCLC   795402925.
  15. "Understanding (1994–2004)". IMDb . Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  16. "Listings: Gary Unmarried". The Futon Critic . November 10, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  17. "Production Has Begun On New Disney+ Movie 'Godmothered'". What's on Disney Plus. January 30, 2020.
  18. 1 2 Riggs, Thomas, ed. (2012). "Jane Curtin". Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Vol. 118. Detroit: Gale. ISBN   978-1-4144-8202-6. OCLC   781178307.
Media offices
Preceded by Weekend Update anchor
Succeeded by
Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin
Preceded by
Jane Curtin
Weekend Update anchor (with Dan Aykroyd)
Succeeded by
Jane Curtin and Bill Murray
Preceded by
Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd
Weekend Update anchor (with Bill Murray)
Succeeded by