Surgery Helps Roseanne Shed 8 Stone

The Mirror (UK)/May 19, 2004
By Elaine Lipworth

There was a time when Roseanne Barr was as famous for being fat as she was for being funny.

But she is now half the woman she used to be after shedding an astonishing eight stone.

And while most celebrities claim that healthy eating and exercise helped them slim, Roseanne is happy to admit she owes it all to surgery.

"I had my entire digestive system removed - I should look thinner," quips Roseanne, 51, who opted for gastric surgery after years battling weight problems and depression.

Today, she is almost unrecognisable from the larger-than-life loudmouth housewife she played in her self-titled American sitcom - the role that made her famous.

The change is so drastic that even her own son doesn't recognise her old self.

"When I look at reruns of my show on TV with my eight-year-old son, Buck, he goes, 'Mom, did you know you were that fat?'" she says. "And I'm like, 'I had no idea I was that fat'."

It isn't just her body that's been worked on. She has had her face done, too - and looks younger and happier than she has for years.

"It's drugs," she says drily, adding as she is handed a cappuccino, "look here's my caffeine coming."

"Actually it's the make-up. And the plastic surgeon, isn't he good? Having a hysterectomy has helped too, I highly recommend it. It makes us look radiant don't you think?"

Her breakfast arrives and it's a plate that Dr Atkins would be proud of - scrambled eggs and tomatoes, but no toast.

"I never exercise, I just eat cheese and sugar," she says. "It's true. I don't have a personal trainer, I can't do any of that stuff. It's just irritating to me and it makes me hate life."

"I just like lying in bed eating cheese and watching shows about serial killers. That kind of lifestyle agrees with me."

"I'm able to keep my weight at 170 pounds now. I still can't find any clothes to fit in LA because everyone's size zero, but I do feel good."

Her slimmer look is not the only big difference. Roseanne, who was renowned for her volatile personal and professional relationships - she has three broken marriages behind her, including a particularly acrimonious split with actor Tom Arnold - has finally found the inner peace she'd always craved.

She has settled in the Los Angeles suburbs with her musician boyfriend Johnny Argent and her son Buck, from her third marriage, to Ben Thomas.

And despite protests from her four adult children - Brandi, Jessica, Jennifer and Jacob - she is even considering getting hitched again.

"Johnny's really good for me," she says. "He's a good person, very ethical and calm. And he's older than me - he's 55, my first old boyfriend. I would marry him, definitely I would."

"I'm at a place in my life where I understand better than I ever have what being with someone means."

"Before Johnny, I was so self-centred and frightened I'd lose what I was trying so hard to keep. I never wondered what the other person felt at all. It's crazy, but I didn't."

Like other celebrities, including Madonna, Roseanne has also embraced Jewish mysticism.

A newcomer to Kabbalah, she wears its trademark red string bracelet and reckons its teachings have helped nurture her caring side - and stopped her mouthing off.

"It reminds me to, 'Speak no evil, think no evil, do no evil'," she explains. "If I'm thinking horrible thoughts I'll touch it and say to myself, 'Shut up, sit down, don't say it.'"

"I had to get rid of layer upon layer of negative thinking. It's just about getting more centred and meditating."

"My rabbi says my problem is being impulsive, that I don't think things through and I jump to conclusions. But that's the only exercise I get."

"It's really all about getting older - I'm 51, I can't stay up past nine these days. But I've tried to repair a lot of damage that I did to myself and other people - saying sorry to people I've hurt. Normal human stuff I forgot about, being a crazed maniac who worked all the time."

She adds with a grin, "The spiritual work and the lobotomy really helped." As part of her making peace with the world, her first husband, Bill Pentland, is now a handyman at her Palos Verdes estate. And she has finally healed the rift with second husband Tom Arnold.

Looking back on her turbulent time with Tom, she says: "I was freaked out, no self-control, just out of it and he was like that, too. We weren't good for each other but I wish him well."

She adds, "I've done things I really wish I hadn't done. But I've tried to clean up as much of the wreckage of the past as I can."

Roseanne reckons her old manic behaviour was just part of being famous.

"Nobody would be a celebrity if they weren't severely damaged," she says. "We're looking for all the love we never got as children or whatever."

"Nobody should look up to us, we're basically circus freaks."

"Sometimes we get better and inspire other people to get better but none of us is altruistic - we're all pretty selfish, fear-driven people." Roseanne is now committed to trying to do some good in the world.

"I'm interested in entertaining children," she says. "I'm making a record for kids with my boyfriend, who's an amazing songwriter. Other than that, I'm interested in being a mother and a grandmother. My four-year-old grandson is like a brother to Buck, they're really close.

"I am pretty much a mom now, although I have help and my four other big kids help me out, too. But I'm just kind of living my real life."

Once the ultimate attention-seeker, she claims there is no real desire to be in front of the cameras any more. And she stays behind a microphone for her latest movie, the new Disney animated feature Home On The Range.

Ironically, given her new calmer, slimmer self, Roseanne provides the voice of Maggie - a fat, outspoken cow.

"I'm very flattered to play this leading lady," she says, laughing. "Maggie is a good-natured and bad-mannered cow."

"She's very self-determined and she knows how to take care of business. There's a lot of me in Maggie, of course. But she's way smarter than me."

"It's a Disney cartoon western, so Buck was delighted when I was offered the role. And there's a character - the horse - named Buck. That was like my sign that this was going to be a fun thing to do."

"I don't like to work a lot and be away from the family any more, though. I like to be at home and I'm trying to calm down and downsize."

"We've moved out to the suburbs because I want Buck to have as normal a life as he can get - considering the fact that I'm his mom!"

Despite never needing to work again - Roseanne jokes, "I have more money than God, but not as much as Oprah," - she plans to return to the stand-up comedy circuit where she first found fame.

Bizarrely for someone who can't eat much since her stomach operation, she also intends to launch her own food range, with a chunk of the profits going to charity.

"I like making people laugh and I like to make them think," she says. "Those two things give me a great energy charge and a reason for me to be here."

"I'm really good at running a house and cooking. I have a hot sauce I've discovered that's fantastic and my food line will be all my recipes."

"It'll be real American food, not low-fat. No green beans tied in the shape of a swan or anything. Stuff that you want to feed your family, that's cheap, fast and tastes good."

"Being totally serious, I'd like to leave this planet thinking I've left behind more good than bad. I want to help my kid with his homework. I just wanna be a good mom."

"I'm not perfect - I screw up every day. I try, though. I don't want to go to hell."

Then, with a trademark raucous laugh, she adds, "And I want to take a long holiday... like for the rest of my life."

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