The ‘Love Goddess’ comedienne and actress, Judy Tenuta, passed away at age 72.
The accordion-playing, acerbic wit, and profanity-filled remarks of Judy Tenuta made her famous.
The “Love Goddess” and stand-up comedian Judy Tenuta passed away on Thursday. She was 72.
Tenuta passed away from ovarian cancer at her Los Angeles home while being attended by family, according to her spokesman Roger Neal.
It was always a “great time to be with her,” Neal told The Associated Press, adding that she was a “very hilarious, amazing performer.”
Tenuta had previously claimed that she was born on November 7, 1965, even though her real birth year was 1949, therefore earlier accounts of her death indicated that she was 65.
She was old-fashioned and would never reveal her true age, but now that she is no longer with us, Neal said, “we may reveal her true age.”
Tenuta was renowned for her loud, gravelly voice, biting, profanity-filled comedy, and accordion playing. Friends advised her to add an accordion to her act as she built her whimsical, witty persona, the “Love Goddess,” according to her obituary.
The seasoned comedian picked up the instrument thanks to encouragement from her mother, a lover of accordionist Lawrence Welk. The Hollywood Museum is now featuring Tenuta’s accordion, which she referred to as “an instrument of love and submission.”
Tenuda was the daughter of an Italian father, Caesar, and a Polish mother, Johanna, and was born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. She was one of nine children, including six brothers, who were nurtured in a Catholic household. Tenuta was the first member of her family to complete college when she majored in theatre at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Before beginning her solo standup career in the 1970s, Tenuta went on to join the Chicago comedy group Second City and perform as an opener for other comics on the city’s comedy scene.
Tenuta stunned spectators during her debut solo performance by dressing as the Virgin Mary. She created other bizarre, campy personas in addition to the “Love Goddess,” including the “Aphrodite of the Accordion,” “The Petite Flower,” “Fashion-Plate Saint,” “Queen of Candy-Pants,” “Princess of Panty Shields,” “Empress of Elvis Impersonators,” and the “Buffer of Foreheads,” all of whom donned silly costumes and made use of various props.
Tenuta claimed that despite her eccentric attire and peculiar stage presence, the majority of people understood her performance right away, which featured the narrow-minded religion she termed “Judy-ism.”
“I’m the only one who can express discontent in my religion. She told The Associated Press, “The really great thing about my religion is that you can forget all about your issues and worry about mine for a time.
Tenuta rose to fame in the late 1980s after co-starring in the 1987 HBO special “Women of the Night” with Rita Rudner, Paula Poundstone, and Ellen DeGeneres.
She toured the country in 1987 and 1988 alongside legendary comedian George Carlin. Tenuta competed against Jerry Seinfeld for the title of best male comedy club performance in the 1988 “American Comedy Awards” TV special. Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler were among those who received awards for their club or cinematic work in that same year.
She eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued to perform on national tours for many more years, including special appearances on the Chicago comedy scene.
Tenuta received two Grammy Award nominations for her comedic CDs “Attention Butt-Pirates and Lesbetarians!” and “In Goddess We Trust” in the 1990s.
She was one of a generation of comics who helped live comedy become more popular in clubs around the country, such as the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, Laff Stop in Houston, and Caroline’s in New York City. Tenuta and other women were able to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
She frequently appeared as a guest on game shows, late-night talk shows, and radio shock jock Howard Stern. She co-starred with Bruce Vilanch in the independent film “Sister Mary” in 2011 and made appearances in the comedies “Material Girls” by Hillary and Haley Duff in 2006 and “Gibsonburg” in 2013 as well. She also appeared in episodes of “Corey in the House,” “General Hospital,” and “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” on television.
In “Duckham,” “Cow and Chicken,” and “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” she provided voiceovers for several characters. In Los Angeles and Chicago, Tenuta performed in “The Vagina Monologues” and “Menopause the Musical.”
Tenuta appeared in numerous comedy shorts and music videos by Weird Al Yankovic and performed a number of roles on “The Weird Al Yankovic Show.”
Yankovic tweeted, “Devastated to hear of the departure of my beloved, dear friend, the gorgeous Miss Judy Tenuta, after learning of her passing. She left, and I can’t believe it. We have indeed lost a goddess on Earth.
Vern Pang, Tenuta’s life partner, her five brothers (Daniel, John, Steven, Thomas, and James), and a sister are left behind (Barbara).
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