Famed for (and lucky enough to be) one of Saturday Night Live’s original Not Ready for Primetime Players, Jane Curtin made her debut in 1975 among such heavies as John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner. Together they formed the sketch comedy troupe that wrote a new chapter in American comedy.
Curtin is different from many of her famous SNL cohorts in that she left the show without being easily identified with a single character. Audiences loved her as Mrs. Conehead and as the co-anchor of Weekend Update with Dan Akroyd, but Curtin remained as understated as someone could be with a two-foot cone on her head; in short, she didn’t become those characters to the public. With her motherly features and subtle acting style, Curtin never seems to intrude upon her characters. She doesn’t force her own personality onto them, but instead, genuinely takes on the character and works through them.
After her two Emmy nominations from Saturday Night Live, Curtin went on to star in two other long-running sitcoms in the next 20 years, making her only the second comedy television star to burn brightly throughout three decades, a feat only matched by Lucille Ball. In the 1980s, viewers empathized with her as Allie Lowell in Kate and Allie (for which she won back-to-back Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmys in 1984 and 1985); in the 1990s, she kept audiences in stitches with her wacky characterization of Dr. Mary Albright, the anthropologist love interest of John Lithgow on 3rd Rock From the Sun.
She has also appeared in the TV-miniseries Common Ground and the made-for-TV movies Divorce Wars (1982) with Tom Selleck and Maybe Baby (1988) with Dabney Coleman. She co-hosted the retrospective Bob & Ray, Jane, Loraine, and Gilda — 30 Years of Comedy’s Greatest Hits (1979). She has toured with a number of plays and also appeared on Broadway, in Candida and A.R. Gerney’s Love Letters. She also starred in the off-Broadway production of Pretzels, a musical revue that she co-wrote.
Before hitting it big, Jane Curtin studied drama at Northeastern College in Cambridge, MA. She lives with her husband and daughter in Connecticut.