Judy Tenuta was known for her humor that was acidic, jokes that were full of expletives, oddball personas, and accordion-playing.
The stand-up comedienne and actress known as the “Love Goddess,” Judy Tenuta, died on Thursday.
She was seventy-two. Roger Neal, publicist for Tenuta, confirmed that she died of ovarian cancer at her home in Los Angeles while surrounded by family.
|Born||November 7, 1949 Oak Park, Illinois (USA)|
|Died||October 6, 2022 (aged 72) Studio City California (USA)|
|Medium||Stand up , television , music , film|
“It was always a happy time to be around her,” Neal told The Associated Press, adding that she was a very funny, amazing performer.
Tenuta was known for her gravelly delivery, her humor filled with expletives, and her accordion-playing. The “Love Goddess” was a whimsical, wisecracking persona that her friends suggested she incorporate an accordion into her act as she developed it.
After being encouraged by her mother, who was a fan of accordionist Lawrence Welk, the veteran comic learned to play the instrument. Currently on display in the Hollywood Museum is Tenuta’s accordion, which she described as “an instrument of love and submission.”
Tenuda was born in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Oak Park. She was the daughter of a Polish mother, Johanna, and an Italian father, Caesar. She was raised in a Catholic family with six brothers and two sisters. Tenuta became the first of her family to graduate from college when she majored in theatre at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
After joining the Chicago comedy troupe Second City and opening for other comedians on the Chicago comedy circuit, Tenuta started her solo standup career in the 1970s. Tenuta shocked audiences at her first solo show when she dressed up as the Virgin Mary.
She developed other oddball, 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 wore whimsical costumes and used a variety of props.
Tenuta said that most people caught on immediately to her act, which included the self-centered religion she called “Judy-ism,” despite her outlandish clothes and bizarre stage appearance.
I’m the only one that gets to complain in my religion. She told The Associated Press, “The really nice thing about my religion is you can forget all about your problems and think about mine for a while.” After starring in the 1987 HBO special “Women of the Night” with Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, and Rita Rudner, Tenuta gained national attention in the late 1980s.
Tenuta was nominated for two Grammy Awards in the 1990s for her comedy CDs, “Attention Butt-Pirates and Lesbetarians!” She was one of the many popular live comedians in the clubs including the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, Laff Stop in Houston, and Caroline’s in New York City. Tenuta found room for herself in a typically male-dominated field.