Judy Tenuta, the stand-up comedian who rose to fame during the ’80s for her crazy, erratic comedy while dressing grotesquely, playing the accordion and painting herself the “Goddess of Love,” died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 72 years old.
Its longtime manager, Roger Ball, said the cause was ovarian cancer.
Ms. Tenuta advanced at a time when the comedy industry was almost exclusively male and was the first female stand-up comedian to win Best Comedy Actress at the American Comedy Awards in 1988, According to a biography on her official website. She was also nominated for two Emmy Awards for her comedy albums, “Attention Butt-Pirates & Lesbetarians!” and “in the gods we trust”.
“Judy’s stand-up routine has been aptly described as outrageous and astounding comedic,” According to her list of accreditations on her official website. “She recently became a dedicated minister and has converted her audience to her distinct religion, Judaism.”
The comedian rose to national fame with a 1987 HBO comedy special “Women of the Night,” in which she starred alongside Ellen DeGeneres, Rita Rudner, and Paula Poundstone.
Ms. Tenuta, who also called herself “Aphrodite Accordion,” has appeared on hundreds of talk shows such as “The View,” “Late Night With David Letterman,” “Larry King Live,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Comics Unleashed.”
Stephen Holden Writing in the New York Times in February 1988called it one of the “fastest-grossing comedies” and compared it to Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr.
“While Mrs. Tenuta’s tiaras have a feisty feature, the feisty inventor wears a tattered prom dress, speaks with a roar and shouts, holds an accordion and greets the audience, ‘Hello, you pigs,’” Holden wrote.
In 1989, she appeared in “One Night Stand” on HBO and also had a special in 1991 with Showtime titled Worship Me, Pigs.
She often performed with one of her fellow accordionist Weird Al Yankovic, including in the short-lived “Weird Al Show” in 1997.
Ms. Tenuta has voiced characters in several adult cartoons, including “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, “Duckman” and “Johnny Bravo”.
Judy Tenuta was born on November 7, 1949 in Oak Park, Illinois to Johanna and Cesar. Mrs. Tenuta was raised in a large family with seven brothers and a sister in a strict Catholic household, according to the Chicago Tribune.
She is survived by her life partner, Fern Pang, and several brothers and sister.
“I’ve always felt like a goddess of love,” She told the newspaper in 1992. “I would say to my brothers, ‘They kissed my hand and kissed my feet,’ and they would. Of course I had to clean their rooms beautifully!”
She’s often been shy about revealing her age in public, saying that she doesn’t want to feel “constrained.”
“When you are a goddess, you are eternal,” Ms. Tenuta told the Tribune. “I don’t want women to feel constrained by age. As soon as someone finds out that you are chronological, they tag you.”
“Typical beer trailblazer. Hipster-friendly web buff. Certified alcohol fanatic. Internetaholic. Infuriatingly humble zombie lover.”