LOS ANGELES — Comedian/actress Lily Tomlin, whose portrayals of characters such as Ernestine the switchboard operator and 5-year-old Edith Ann on the television classic “Laugh-In” made her a comedic star, will be honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, the union announced Aug. 4.
Tomlin, 76, will receive the honor during the 23rd annual SAG Awards ceremony next Jan. 29.
During a career that has spanned six decades, Tomlin has collected a roomful of honors for her work on stage and screen, including a half-dozen Emmys, a pair of Peabody Awards, a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, two Tony Awards and a Grammy Award in 1972 for best comedy album. She is nominated for another Emmy this year for her leading role in “Grace and Frankie.”
Her array of awards is one short of a coveted “EGOT,” missing only an Oscar. She was nominated for a supporting-actress Oscar in 1976 for “Nashville.”
“Lily Tomlin is an extraordinary actress, as equally adept at narrative drama as in comedy roles,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said. “But it is through her many original characters that Lily’s creative genius fully shines. She has an ability to create diverse and distinct characters that are at once familiar, eccentric and oh-so-honest — in a way that illuminates life’s hidden corners.”
Her work on “Laugh-In” made Tomlin a household name, leading to series of her own comedy specials, along with animated specials based on her character Edith Ann, the squeaky-voiced, philosophical 5-year-old girl. She also appeared on television series including “Murphy Brown,” “The West Wing” and “Damages.” She stars alongside Jane Fonda in “Grace and Frankie.”
Although she earned her Oscar nomination for “Nashville,” Tomlin is best remembered on the big screen for her work with Fonda and Dolly Parton in “9 to 5.” She also appeared in films including “The Incredible Shrinking Woman,” “Big Business,” “All of Me,” “I Heart Huckabees” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
SAG-AFTRA officials also hailed Tomlin for her philanthropic work, including her support for the LGBT community — punctuated by her co-founding of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center and the Goosebump Garden at the LGBT Fenway Health Center in Boston. She is also a noted animal-welfare and anti-homelessness activist.