Popular Comedian Known As The ‘Love Goddess’ Of Stand-Up Dies At 72
Comedian Judy Tenuta claimed that her birthday was November 7, 1956, but according to her publicist, Roger Neal, she was really born in 1949. Yes, she lied about her age. Neal told The Associated Press, “She was old school so she would never tell her real age, but now that she’s gone we can tell her real age.”
Tenuta died on October 7, 2022. She was at her home in Los Angeles at the time. According to Neal, she was surrounded by her family. The cause of death was ovarian cancer. She was 72 years old.
According to Tenuta’s friend, Elayne Boosler, in an article for The Los Angeles Times, Tenuta “was a warrior in life and in death.” She added, “I watched her fight for her life this last year and a half.”
Tenuta was a stand-up comedian known as the “Love Goddess.” She also went by the name “Petite Flower.” She started out pursuing comedy in the 1970s. It was a male-dominated industry, but she didn’t give up. She performed in comedy clubs nationwide including The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and Caroline’s in New York City.
In 1987, Tenuta stared in an HBO special called “On Location: Women of the Night.” The special also featured other female comedians including Ellen DeGeneres and Rita Rudner. You can watch part of Tenuta’s performance in the video below.
As you can see in the video above, Tenuta dressed in an unusual way and often carried an accordion with her as part of her act. She looked like a “Petite Flower” but as soon as she opened her mouth, her brash words and deep voice contradicted that image.
Tenuta appeared on multiple television shows including game shows and late-night talk shows. She also appeared on “The Weird Al Show” and “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.”
On stage, Tenuta appeared in “The Vagina Monologues” in both Los Angeles and Chicago.
Tenuta was nominated for a Grammy two years in a row, both times in the best spoken word comedy album category. In 1995, she was nominated for “Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians,” and in 1996 she was nominated for “In Goddess We Trust.”
She supported the LGBTQ+ community and even said that she was an ordained minister in her made-up religion, Judyism, and was “available for same sex marriages!”
Many comedians have expressed their condolences on social media.
Truly! RIP Judy Tenuta. Loved her. An original. https://t.co/M9iI28M1A2
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 6, 2022
Oh, no!@JudyTenuta was one of the first comedians I ever met when I started doing standup. We met the first time I went onstage. @tomdreesencomic‘s open mic at the Pickle Barrel in Chicago, 1974. #RestInPeace, Love Goddess.We #PraiseSHESUS for you.https://t.co/2Vd5DPDEOV
— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) October 7, 2022
Devastated to hear of the passing of my dear, dear friend, the lovely Miss Judy Tenuta. I can’t believe she’s gone. Earth has truly lost a goddess. pic.twitter.com/TiRuWTARiB
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) October 6, 2022