Comedian Judy Tenuta Dies at 72

Comedian Judy Tenuta Dies at 72
Comedian Judy Tenuta attends the Women's Image Networks WIN Awards at the Mark Goodson Theatre in Los Angeles on Dec. 1, 2009. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES—Judy Tenuta, a standup who cheekily styled herself as the “Love Goddess” and toured with George Carlin as she built her career in the 1980s golden age of comedy, died Thursday. She was 72.

Tenuta died Thursday afternoon at home in Los Angeles, with her family around her, publicist Roger Neal told The Associated Press. The cause of death was ovarian cancer.

“She was a very funny, amazing performer,” Neal said, and it was always a “happy time to be around her.”

Tenuta had claimed her birthdate as Nov. 7, 1965, but she was born in 1949, Neal said. “She was old school so she would never tell her real age, but now that she’s gone we can tell her real age,” he added.

She was among a generation of performers who drove the popularity of live comedy in clubs nationwide.

“Devastated to hear of the passing of my dear, dear friend, the lovely Miss Judy Tenuta. I can’t believe she’s gone,” Weird Al Yankovic, who worked with Tenuta on his 1990s TV series and a 2006 music video, wrote on Twitter.

Michael McKean, of “Spinal Tap” fame, wrote on Twitter, “One of a kind.”

In 1988’s “American Comedy Awards” TV special, Tenuta was named best female comedy club performer opposite male winner Jerry Seinfeld. Other honorees that year for their club or screen work included Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler.

“I would trade it in a minute, if I could just be a wife and mother,” said Tenuta, who accepted her award from Carlin.

Tenuta was a two-time Grammy nominee, getting back-to-back nominations in 1995 and 1996 for best spoken word comedy album.

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