Laraine Newman

Active - 1976 - 2018  |   Born - Mar 2, 1952 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family

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Biography by Hal Erickson

A student of mime artist Marcel Marceau, LA-born Laraine Newman utilized her artistic training in the cause of comedy. In 1972, she joined the Groundlings improvisational troupe (spawning ground for such major comic talents as Phil Hartman and Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens), making her film debut with several fellow improvvers in the 1975 pastiche Tunnelvision. She went on to work as an ensemble player on the 1975 summer-replacement TV variety series Manhattan Transfer. From 1975 through 1980, Laraine was a regular on the ground-breaking weekend comedy series Saturday Night Live. While her contributions were always well-received, Laraine tended to play third banana to the other SNL ladies Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin, reportedly because of her acute shyness. Her best moments on the series occurred when she played alien teenager Laarta in the "Coneheads" sketches; her particular low point was the time she nearly drowned during a "witch-hunt" sketch starring Steve Martin. Free of her SNL duties in 1980, Laraine played a supporting role in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, and was featured in such "comedy salads" (Ms. Newman's own term for feature films overloaded with TV comedians) as Wholly Moses (1980) and Yellowbeard (1982). The world first saw Ms. Newman's new nose job when she co-starred in the 1985 John Travolta-Jamie Lee Curtis starrer Perfect. The following year, Laraine hosted a syndicated "bad movie" TV anthology, Canned Film Festival. Laraine Newman's screen appearances of the 1990s have included the role of Susan Rock in 1993's The Flintstones and a revival of Laarta in the like-vintage The Coneheads.

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  • Studied mime in Paris under Marcel Marceau.
  • Was a member of the improvisational troupe The Groundlings.
  • Was one of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980, at which point she left because she was dissatisfied with her amount of airtime.
  • Has done extensive voice-over work in animated feature films since 2001.
  • Is a frequent contributor for The Huffington Post and food blog Once for the Table.