Jane Curtin

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Jane Curtin
Jane Curtin 1989.jpg
at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 1989
Born Jane Therese Curtin
(1947-09-06) September 6, 1947 (age 71)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Elizabeth Seton Junior College (A.A., 1967)[1]
Occupation Actress/Comedian
Years active 1975–present
Spouse(s) Patrick Lynch (m. 1975)
Children Tess Lynch (b. 1983)
Parent(s) John Joseph Curtin
Mary Constance (née Farrell) Curtin

Jane Therese Curtin (born September 6, 1947) is an American actress and comedian. She is sometimes referred to as "Queen of the Deadpan; The Philadelphia Inquirer once called her a "refreshing drop of acid."[2] She was included on a 1986 list of the "Top Prime Time Actors and Actresses of All Time."[3]

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 The Librarian series of movies (2004–2008). She also reprised one of her Saturday Night Live characters, Prymaat (Clorhone) Conehead, in the 1993 film Coneheads.

Personal life

Curtin was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Mary Constance (née Farrell) and John Joseph Curtin, who owned an insurance agency.[4]

She grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts and graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart, Elmhurst Academy in Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1965.[5]

She married Patrick Francis Lynch (a television producer) on April 2, 1975; they have one daughter, Tess Curtin Lynch.[6] They live in Sharon, Connecticut.

She has a brother, Larry Curtin, who lives in South Florida;[7] their older brother, John J. "Jack" Curtin, died in 2008.[8] She was raised a Catholic. Curtin is a cousin of actress and writer Valerie Curtin. Her uncle was the radio personality Joseph Curtin.


Curtin holds an associate degree from Elizabeth Seton Junior College in New York City, class of 1967. She then attended Northeastern University from 1967 to 1968.[9]

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" for 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 that many of the cast participated in. 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".[10]

On this 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 in 1976–77, and was paired with Dan Aykroyd in 1977–78 and Bill Murray in 1978–80. Playing 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!"

In a parody of the "Point-Counterpoint" segment of the news program 60 Minutes, Curtin portrayed 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.[11]

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).[12]

Later television work

Unlike many of her fellow SNL cast members who ventured successfully into film, Curtin chose to stay in television. Her film appearances have been sporadic. 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.

She later joined 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.[13]

Curtin also starred with Fred Savage in the ABC sitcom Crumbs, which debuted in January 2006 and was canceled in May of that year. She also guest-starred on Gary Unmarried as Connie, Allison's mother.[14] In 2012, she joined Unforgettable as Dr. Joanne Webster, a gifted but crusty medical examiner.


In 1980, Jane 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.

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 the Emmy Awards in 1984, 1987, and 1998; the 11th Annual American Comedy Awards in 1997; and the 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 1997.[6][15]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Mr. Mike's Mondo Video Herself/Cameo
1980 How to Beat the High Co$t of Living Elaine
1985 O.C. and Stiggs Elinore Schwab
1993 Coneheads Prymatt Conehead / Mary Margaret DeCicco
1998 Antz Muffy (voice)
2003 Recess: All Growed Down Additional Voices Video
2004 Geraldine's Fortune Geraldine Liddle
2005 Brooklyn Lobster Maureen Giorgio
2006 Shaggy Dog, TheThe Shaggy Dog Judge Claire Whittaker
2009 I Love You, Man Joyce Klaven
2011 I Don't Know How She Does It Marla Reddy
2013 Flicker Box Sister Margaret Pre-production
2013 Heat, TheThe Heat Mrs. Mullins
Year Title Role Notes
1975–1980 Saturday Night Live Various 107 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
1977 Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Regina Parker 1 episode
1977 What Really Happened to the Class of '65? Ivy Episode: "Class Hustler"
1981 Bob & Ray, Jane, Laraine, & Gilda Herself TV Movie
1982 Candida Prossie TV movie
1982 Divorce Wars: A Love Story Vickey Sturgess TV movie
1983 Coneheads, TheThe Coneheads Prymaat (voice) TV short
1984 Bedrooms Laura TV movie
1984–89 Kate & Allie Allison 'Allie' Lowell 122 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 McLaidlaw Episode: "Suspicion"
1988 Maybe Baby Julia Gilbert TV movie
1990 Common Ground Alice McGoff TV movie
1990 Working It Out Sarah Marshall 13 episodes
1994 Dave's World Anne Episode: "Lost Weekend"
1995 Tad Mary Todd Lincoln TV movie
1995 Mystery Dance Susan Baker Episode: "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"
2000 Catch a Falling Star Fran TV movie
2003 Cyberchase Lady Ada Byron Lovelace (voice) Episode: "Hugs and Witches"
2003 Our Town Mrs. Webb TV movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2004 Librarian: Quest for the Spear, TheThe Librarian: Quest for the Spear Charlene TV movie
2006 Crumbs Suzanne Crumb 13 episodes
2006 Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines, TheThe Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines Charlene TV movie
2007 Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office Joy TV movie
2008 In the Motherhood Mom Episode: "Mother Dearest"
2008 Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, TheThe Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice Charlene TV movie
2008–2009 Gary Unmarried Connie 2 episodes
2009 Sherri Margo / Paula's Mom Episode: "Birth"
2010 The Women of SNL Various/Prymaat Conehead/Weekend Update TV Movie; Archive Footage
2010 Rex Is Not Your Lawyer Unknown Episode: "Pilot"
2011 The Oprah Winfrey Show Guest Episode: "Saturday Night Live Class Reunion"
2012–2014 Unforgettable Joanne Webster 27 episodes
2014 The Librarians Charlene Guest role in 2 episodes
"And the Crown of King Arthur", "And the Sword in the Stone"


  1. "Bio: Jane Curtin,"[Museum of Broadcast Communications], Chicago.
  2. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Du Brow, Rick (August 8, 1986). "Who Are the Top Prime Time Actors and Actresses of All Time?". Times Union. Albany, NY. p. 15A. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Jane Curtin Biography (1947-)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Jane Curtin". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  7. Talley, Jim (August 18, 1986). "Investors Star In Film Financing". Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Retrieved April 14, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "John J. Curtin [obituary]". Boston Herald. September 24, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Jane Curtin Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Live From New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live". 2005-02-20. NBC. Missing or empty |series= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Polk, Bryan; Seesholtz, Mel (Oct 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription required.)
  12. "The Women of SNL". WorldCat. 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Understanding (1994–2004)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Listings - TheFutonCritic.com - The Web's Best Television Resource".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Biography for Jane Curtin at the Internet Movie Database

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Chevy Chase
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
Charles Rocket