Who knew that Roseanne Barr was brought up half as a Mormon, half as a Jew? Who knew, indeed, that since she is the Peace and Freedom Party's candidate for the White House, there are in fact one and a half Mormons running for president this year?
Barbara Ehrenreich, the feminist and political activist, described the Roseanne of the sitcom as representing "the hopeless underclass of the female sex: polyester-clad, overweight … fast-food waitresses, factory workers, housewives, members of the invisible pink-collar army; the despised, the jilted, the underpaid…". And for all her own millions, Roseanne's blue-collar, low-wage image makes her an emblem of the 47 per cent non-income-tax-paying of the US population written off by Romney as too tied by dependency to the Democrats to dream of voting for him.
Born 60 years ago in Salt Lake City, Utah, she was raised solely as a Jew until she developed Bell's palsy at three. When the rabbi's prayers failed to cure her, Roseanne's mother turned to a Mormon preacher. He worked an apparent miracle, and from then on her religious life was an unlikely hotchpotch. "Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings I was a Jew," Roseanne recalls. "Sunday afternoon we were Mormons." Only many years later did she learn that Bell's palsy has a tendency to vanish spontaneously in small children.
With Roseanne, who later retracted the claim that she was sexually abused by her parents, everything must be taken with a pinch – if not a Siberian mine's-worth – of salt. But in the absence of contradictory evidence, we accept that this little Jewish girl took to the stage at six, lecturing worshippers at the Latter-day Saints churches. Who can say that her devoutness didn't inspire the young Mitt to become a Mormon bishop?
Multiple-married, though never bigamously, Roseanne's religious journey has latterly led her along the well-trodden celebrity path to Kabbalah, which some regard as more eccentric than Mormonism.
These days, any sense of shared identity with Romney has evaporated. "If you want to tell the government and the two domineering parties that you're sick and tired of all their evil," she says, "…vote for me." The good people of Utah, who waited ages for one of their own to run for president, will have an embarrassment of riches from which to choose on 6 November.Reuse content