What terrible news! Iconic comedian and self-described “Love Goddess” Judy Tenuta has died of ovarian cancer in Los Angeles. She was only 72.
Known for her acerbic humor, expletive-laden jokes, raspy voice and accordion, she was among the performers who fueled the popularity of live comedy in clubs, including the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, Laff Stop in Houston and Caroline’s in New York City.
Tenuta co-starred with Bruce Vilanch in the indie “Sister Mary,” and had small roles in “Gibsonburg” and Hillary and Haley Duff’s “Material Girls.” Her TV work included appearances in “General Hospital,” “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” and “Corey in the House.” In addition to playing minor characters on “The Weird Al Show,” she was a regular in Al Yankovic’s comedy shorts and music videos.
“Earth has truly lost a goddess,” Yankovic tweeted following news of her death.
I had the pleasure of working with Judy on The Queer Edge with Jack E. Jett, the pioneering LGBT nightly cable talk show, for an entire week in October 2005—almost exactly seventeen years ago. The experience changed my life!
It was my first TV producer job. Judy was a doll. She was so quick, she ran circles around Jack Jett (he was still finding his place in the national spotlight).
But that’s really only a teeny taste of the late Comic Diva’s genius.
Last time we saw Judy, she was receiving her Palm Spring Walk Of Stars honor and grand marshaling the Pride Parade in 2019, right before Covid screwed everything up:
I’ve always wanted to make a Jack E. Jett documentary. Maybe it will still happen, but it won’t include an interview with Judy, and that breaks my heart.
My condolences go out to all Judy Tenuta’s family, friends, fans and “Love Slaves.”
Read more about The Queer Edge and Judy Tenuta: