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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM

Happy birthday, Lily Tomlin

The ever-wonderful Lily Tomlin turns 70 today, and that’s cause for a little tribute. Tomlin’s one of the few performers to effortlessly combine movies, television and stage work throughout a long career, ranging from Ernestine and Edith Ann on “Laugh-In” decades ago (“One ringy-dingy . . . “) to her popular stage show “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” to her always wise and honest screen performances, including several in Robert Altman’s films. In “A Prairie Home Companion,” the director’s final film, Tomlin’s performance was a marvel of subtlety and wit. As one of two singing sisters (the other was no slouch either — Meryl Streep), she created a touching portrait of a woman a little bitter about stardom passing her by, but for whom singing is a balm that heals all pains.
Watch Tomlin — who told me in a 2006 interview that “comedy and tragedy are the same, they just end differently” — create magic with Streep in this musical scene; you believe that they’re sisters who have sung together since before they can remember, and that song is as natural to them as breathing. Sing it again, Lily, and happy birthday.

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