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Lily Tomlin Has Been Vocal about Not Wanting Motherhood during the 51 Years She Has Been with Her Wife Jane

Junie Sihlangu
May 08, 2022
03:40 A.M.
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Lily Tomlin knew she was lesbian for many years but only married her wife, Jane Wagner, in 2013. The couple doesn't have any children, and the reasons about whether they want them or not were quite interesting.


Lily Tomlin is one actress who spent many years without coming out as a lesbian. In January 2019, the actress was interviewed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" when she revealed how she was approached to come out publicly.

Back in 1975, the comedy icon, who worked with Jane Fonda on "9 to 5," was asked by "Time" magazine if she would be their coming story, and in exchange, they would make her the cover of their issue. However, Tomlin declined the offer.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center Presents Conversations With Coco With Special Guest Jane Fonda on April 20, 2013, in California. | Source: James Lemke Jr/WireImage/Getty Images


She explained that she wanted to be acknowledged for her performance and not a part of who she was. The magazine ended up profiling an army service person instead, with Tomlin stating about "Time:"

“I just wasn't going to play their game.”


The legendary star had no intention to live by society's rules and wished to forge her own path in life. In 2006, she told Metro Weekly that she was "offended" by the magazine's offer and intention to make a deal with her.

The actress also acknowledged that coming out during that time would've been a hard thing to do. At the time, Tomlin was already in a relationship with another woman and the love of her life, writer Jane Wagner. 


Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner in their dressing room at the Plymouth Theater, in New York, in 1986. | Source: Oliver Morris/Getty Images


In the Metro Weekly interview, Wagner was described as "another half" to Tomlin. The actress confessed how the writer had taken her to a different level because of how wonderful she was as an author.

She revealed how she'd struggled in the past with putting things together until Wagner came into her life. The pair met in 1971 while Tomlin was working on her Edith Ann album.

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner at the "New York Drama Circle Awards" on May 19, 1986, in New York City, New York. | Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Before they met, Wagner had written a television production called "J.T." that won her a Peabody Award. It was the first thing the writer had written, and when Tomlin saw it, she knew she needed Wagner to help with her monologue. 

She wrote the author and asked for assistance with Edith Ann, "And That's the Truth" album but didn't hear back from her for some time. A week before the actress was meant to record the album, Wagner sent her lots of material!

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," in Chicago, Illinois, on November 2, 1986. | Source: Paul Natkin/Getty Images


Tomlin convinced the writer to visit California to help with the production. The actress was taken with Wagner the minute she saw her, and they clicked right away, leading to them becoming a couple immediately. 

Tomlin's friend brought Wagner to her hotel room, and within two minutes, the comedian had fallen in love with her. The star was so in love that she flew back to New York after performing a Chicago show the next day to find the writer.

Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin at an In-Store Appearance Signing of "Edith Ann-My Life So Far" on October 23, 1994, in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


She called Wagner and confessed she didn't have much time but wanted to see her. The writer agreed to the meeting, and that's when the pair had their first date, with the author noting:

“It was an ecstatic time when we found each other, aesthetically — and in every other way.”


In 2006, the couple had been together for 35 years! The star, who's appeared with Jane Fonda on "Grace And Frankie," said the secret to staying together for so long was giving each other "real attention," respect, care, effort, time, and working on their commitment.

The publication also noted how Tomlin was out about her sexual orientation but never actually came out to the media. The star explained how it wasn't something that was written about in the 1970s, and those that knew still referred to Wagner as her "collaborator."

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at the Los Angeles Special FYC Event For Netflix's "Grace And Frankie" on April 23, 2022, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images


The actress even had a week where one magazine said she lived alone while another acknowledged that she stayed with the writer. When asked if she and Wagner had ever considered marriage, Tomlin said they did talk about it.

However, the star, two years younger than Fonda, wasn't sure if they would go through with it, but clarified that she did feel like they were married. Tomlin shared how they'd lived together for many years before adding:

"I can’t even remember not living with Jane."

Jane Wagner and Honoree Lily Tomlin at the Kennedy Center Honorees dinner event in Washington D.C. on December 6, 2014. | Source: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post/Getty Images


Tomlin and Wagner had been together for more than 51 years, and they tied the knot in 2013 but never had any children. According to the actress's representative, the couple got married on New Year's Eve in a private Los Angeles ceremony.

Liz Smith, the veteran columnist, was the first person to report their union. She confirmed that her longtime friends had gotten married and wished their happiness would be "as great as their combined talents."


Even though Wagner and Tomlin often touched on their relationship, they never delved too deep into it because of how unconventional it was. The couple also discussed why they didn't have children but didn't go into too much detail. 

Only getting married in 2013 also showed how much the duo lived for themselves and chose to do things only when they were ready. However, from the few times they've addressed the topic of children, some conclusions have been made.


Lily Tomlin during her monologue on "Saturday Night Live" on September 18, 1976. | Source: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images


In 1973, Tomlin appeared on "The Tonight Show," where Johnny Carson asked her if she was married, and she said no. He then asked her if she had children and heard how the audience stopped dead to listen attentively.

The star explained she didn't want children, although she liked them. She felt judged because its taboo for a woman not to want children or to be someone's wife, but she thought it was okay if other gay people wanted children; however, her stance was:

"I didn’t want to — and I’m glad I don’t — have any children."

Lily Tomlin at the 10th annual Oceana SeaChange Summer Party at Private Residence on July 15, 2017, in Laguna Beach, California. | Source: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images


The actress explained that she wouldn't have had any room in her life for her to raise children. Her biggest priority was her career, and if she'd had a child, the star would've had to let her work go so she could be fully present for her offspring.

The actress [Lily Tomlin] revealed that she would've carried the child, she didn't want all of that but could've done it. 

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner at People and EIF's Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala on January 29, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images


When asked if she would've been a good mother, Tomlin said she probably would but was selfish and didn't want to be one. The actress said she didn't "overly" regret not having children because it was hard to raise and do right by children before concluding:

"There are too many kids anyway. There’s too many people."

Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 29, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images


However, Tomlin once confessed how sometimes she thought, "It would be nice to have somebody who looks like a replica of you in some fashion, but I don't think it ever was an aspiration of mine."

She admitted that if she and Wagner had any children, she would've been the one to get up early to fix the brood breakfast. However, she reiterated her stance, stating, "I'm so glad we didn't have any children."

Tomlin also noted that when she thought of the state of the world currently, she thought, "I don't want to even deal with having to raise a child." Watching relatives struggle with parenthood also led to the couple's decision.



On the other hand, Wagner and Tomlin once considered the former's nephew, who was quite handsome, as a sperm donor. The actress revealed that she would've carried the child; she didn't want all of that but could've done it. 

In 2019, while on a hike interview with Kevin Nealon in a Los Angeles canyon, Tomlin revealed that she thought her behavior wouldn't have made her an excellent person to become a parent

Wagner and Tomlin also didn't consider adopting a child. However, adoption was a good and honorable thing, especially for couples or people who don't fit in the "traditional" mold.