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Judy Tenuta

Comedian And Actor Judy Tenuta Dead At 72

Judy Tenuta (Shutterstock)
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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Judy Tenuta, a Grammy-nominated comedian who made a name for herself as the ‘petite flower’ of stand-up comedy, has died. She was 72.

Tenuta’s publicist told the Associated Press that she died at home in Los Angeles on Thursday from ovarian cancer.

Known for her outsized stage presence, brash presentation, and mix of observational and insult comedy, Tenuta made a name for herself in the 1980s and 1990s, skewering everything from religion, politics, celebrities, sports, and current events with the help of her accordion.

A native of Chicago, Tenuta attended the University of Illinois, but developed a taste for comedy after taking improv classes with the famed comedy troupe Second City.

After spending several years on the Chicago comedy circuit, she broke through to mainstream audiences and after relocating to New York, she hosted “Women of the Night” an HBO Comedy Special with Ellen DeGeneres, Rita Rudner, and Paula Poundstone.

She was twice nominated for a Grammy Award, first in 1994 for her comedy CD “Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians” and then again in 1995 for her comedy CD “In Goddess We Trust.”

In addition to her work as a stand-up comic, she also spring boarded into a successful career in film and television, appearing on the big screen in films such as “Material Girls,” “Butch Camp,” “Sister Mary,” and “Love Bites,” among others.

She was also a regular on the “Howard Stern Show” and did voiceover work on shows such as “Dr. Katz” and “Space Ghost.”

Tenuta was an outspoken advocate for gay rights and launched her own religion, Judyism, allowing her to officiate at marriage ceremonies for LGBTQ people.

“Devastated to hear of the passing of my dear, dear friend, the lovely Miss Judy Tenuta. I can’t believe she’s gone,” tweeted Weird Al Yankovic, who worked with Tenuta on a television show in the 1990s. “Earth has truly lost a goddess.”

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