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"Roseanne Roseannadanna" was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner who appeared on "Weekend Update" in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live. She was the segment's consumer affairs reporter who, like Radner's earlier character Emily Litella, gave editorial replies to current issues. Unlike Litella, Roseannadanna was brash and tactless instead of meek and apologetic. The character was based on Rose Ann Scamardella, a former anchorwoman of WABC-TV's Eyewitness News in New York City. The character later appeared in Radner's live one-woman shows.
Roseannadanna's Saturday Night Live commentary would follow a strict formula. She would read a letter from the ever-curious Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey (although, on one occasion, she read a letter from a "Mrs." Richard Feder, and on another occasion the Feders had re-located to Mount St. Helens, Washington). The letter would ask a series of questions, usually about some current social issue, to which Roseannadanna would usually reply, "Mr. Feder, you sure do ask a lot of questions for a guy from New Jersey," or "You belong in New Jersey!" She then would sometimes make a derogatory comment about New Jersey before moving on to the question. Richard Feder was the name of an actual resident of Fort Lee who also happened to be the brother-in-law of SNL writer and segment co-creator Alan Zweibel.
While answering the questions, she would invariably digress, launching into a lengthy anecdote with no relevance to the topic at hand, frequently having to do with an encounter Roseannadanna had had with a celebrity (Bo Derek, Princess Grace, Gloria Vanderbilt, etc.). Invariably, the story would lead into Roseannadanna's going into disgustingly graphic detail about bodily functions or personal hygiene; with these details, she would use a famous celebrity as an example and say that she would ask these celebrities, "What are ya tryin' to do, make me sick?!"
Eventually, Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, "Roseanne, you're making me sick." Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna's response was, "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something—if it ain't one thing, it's another."
She would then wrap up her comments by sharing a piece of advice passed down from a family member (often her father, but sometimes her "Nana" Roseannadanna; in one episode, she mentioned her aunt Pollyanna Roseannadanna, while in others, her "musically happening cousin, Carlos Santana Roseannadanna," her religious aunt Hosanna Roseannadanna, and her singing cousin Lola Falana Roseannadanna). In the final episode, she mentioned her fashion designer aunt Murjani Roseannadanni.
The character also had a tendency to refer to herself by her full name whenever possible ("Mr. Feder, I know what you're talkin' about, because, I, Roseanne Roseannadanna, once had the same thing happen to me.") and often exaggerated her tribulations, saying, "I thought I was gonna die!"
For example, she was talking about eating a hamburger in a restaurant and how she felt something hard in it. And she spit it out and it was white and looked like a toenail. She said, "I thought I was gonna die. I mean, what was a toenail doing in my hamburger?" Then she went to the restroom and on the way to the restroom she saw Princess Lee Radziwill who she described as the "classy lady that no one knows where she's the princess of." But what the Princess didn't know was she had a tiny piece of toilet paper hanging off her shoe, and she was walking around and the toilet paper wouldn't fall off. "I thought I was gonna be sick. So I says to her, 'Hey Princess Lee—what are ya tryin' to do, make me sick?' " So Jane Curtin asked her what this had to do with anything. Roseanne said, "Well it just goes to show you, it's always something, you either got a toenail in your hamburger or toilet paper clinging to your shoe."
After Saturday Night Live
In Radner's off-Broadway one-woman show, she included a sketch where Roseanadanna was invited to give the commencement speech at Columbia University. After disclosing that she was not the first choice for commencement speech, and that the University only called her after Geraldo Rivera pulled out because he "had a boil that needed to be lanced", she attempted to prepare the new graduates for the hard road ahead by describing a job interview she'd had with CBS, in which Walter Cronkite mistakenly thought she'd "passed gas" and consequently kicked her out of his office. The character was later credited as "co-author" of Radner's book Roseanne Roseannadanna's Hey Get Back to Work. In the last year of her life, Radner released a memoir of her experience with ovarian cancer, entitled It's Always Something. Radner also recorded the book on audio, imitating Roseannadanna and other of her SNL characters when describing those parts of her life.
List of SNL episodes featuring Rosanne Roseannadanna
- October 29, 1977 host: Charles Grodin—on this episode, Gilda's Roseanne Roseannadanna character was not on Weekend Update. She was on a fake commercial called "Hire The Incompetent," where she protested being fired from a fast food restaurant because her hair kept falling into the hamburgers on a grill.
- January 21, 1978 host: Steve Martin
- January 28, 1978 host: Robert Klein
- February 25, 1978 host: O.J. Simpson
- March 18, 1978 host: Jill Clayburgh
- April 15, 1978 host: Michael Sarrazin
- May 13, 1978 host: Richard Dreyfuss
- October 7, 1978 host: The Rolling Stones
- November 18, 1978 host: Carrie Fisher
- December 16, 1978 host: Elliott Gould
- February 24, 1979 host: Kate Jackson
- April 7, 1979 host: Richard Benjamin
- May 26, 1979 host: Buck Henry
- October 20, 1979 host: Eric Idle
- December 22, 1979 host: Ted Knight
- March 15, 1980 No specific host.
- May 24, 1980 host: Buck Henry
The character also appeared in Radner's 1979 one-woman-show, Gilda Live.
A bumper graphic with Emma Stone (who was the host that night) in the November 12, 2011 had Stone as Roseanne.
- "Did you ever want to know who Richard Feder really is?" The Associated Press, Sunday, February 10, 1980.
- Robertson, Lori (July/August 1999). "A Blast from the Past: "Roseanne Roseannadanna" returns". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 20–02–2014.
- Flegenheimer, Matt. "A Mr. Feder, Once of Fort Lee, Chimes In," The New York Times, Saturday, January 11, 2014.