An everlasting love. Lily Tomlin has played many parts — the titular Frankie on Grace and Frankie, Violet in 9 to 5Ms. Frizzle even on the Magic School Bus — but her favorite role of all is wife to Jane Wagner.
The couple — who have been together for more than 50 years — first met in the early 1970s, where it was love at first sight.
“I tell you, in two minutes, I fell in love with her,” the Malibu County alum recalled in July 2020 at the Lambda Literary Awards of meeting the playwright, who was introduced to Tomlin at the actress’ New York City hotel through a mutual friend. The Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse star had recently seen Wagner’s 1969 PBS after-school special, J.T., and wanted a conversation with her about it.
“She had on hot pants, stretchy boots that went up to her knee, and a little backpack,” Tomlin remembered. “I don’t know what it was, but I was in love.” The couple went on their first date the next day, and the rest was history.
“It was an ecstatic time when we found each other,” Wagner added. “Aesthetically — and in every other way.”
They fell in and out of love romantically, but they also fell in and out of love creatively. They began to collaborate immediately: Wagner as the writer and Tomlin the performer. The Tennessee native penned project after project for her love, including several of Tomlin’s own starring vehicles: TheLily Tomlin ShowTV special and 2 subsequent Lily specials, all in the mid-‘70s. The decade was coming to an end, and Wagner wrote the Tomlin.John TravoltaFilm Moment by Moment, and, in the early ‘80s, Incredible Shrinking WomanStarring the Grace and Frankie alum.
On stage, however, is where the couple really hit their stride — Wagner’s 1985 play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life In the UniverseBoth her and Tomlin were awarded individual Drama Desk Awards. The one-woman show also won the 9 to 5 star a Tony Award for best actress, as well as an Outer Critics’ Circle award. They reprised their roles in 1991’s film, with Tomlin playing the lead and Wagner as the writer.
After more than four decades together, Wagner and Tomlin tied the knot on New Year’s Eve 2013, hours before the start of 2014. TheDesperate HousewivesE! was told by the alum. E! had told her earlier that she didn’t think she would see same-sex marriage legalized in her lifetime.
“You didn’t think that would happen,” Tomlin noted. “It’s pretty remarkable.”
Keep scrolling to see the sweetest moments of Tomlin and Wagner’s 50-year-plus romance: