Judy Tenuta, a beloved performer in the fields of comedy and music, passed away on October 6 at the age of 72. She had two novels published under her name and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Comedy Album on two separate occasions.
Roger Neal, who was her publicist, was the one who broke the word to The Associated Press that she had passed away. He claimed that she was a witty and fantastic performer, and that being in her presence made him feel cheerful and joyful all the time.
What Was the Cause of Judy Tenuta Death?
Tenuta passed away on Thursday afternoon in the company of her family at their home in Los Angeles, according to publicist Roger Neal, who spoke to the Associated Press. Ovarian cancer was the reason for her passing away.
Neal described her as “She was a very funny, amazing performer,” and he noted that being in her presence always made for a “good moment.”
Neal stated that Tenuta was born in 1949 despite the fact that she had stated that her birthdate was November 7th, 1965. He continued by saying, “She was old school so she would never tell her real age, but now that she’s gone we can tell her real age,”.
Early Life and Career of Judy Tenuta
Judy Tenuta’s mother, Joann, was Polish and her father, Caesar, was Italian. She was born on November 7, 1949. She attended Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, Illinois, where she was born and nurtured among other Irish Catholics.
After enrolling at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she took an improv comedy class with the famed Chicago improv troupe The Second City, where she discovered her love of comedy. Before that, she used to serve as an opening act for other famous Chicago comedians.
Her first act as a comedian involved dressing up as the Virgin Mary and she did so at several events on the Chicago comedy circuit in the late 1970s. During the 1980s, she hosted an HBO Comedy Special alongside Ellen DeGeneres, Rita Rudner, and Paula Poundstone, and she became widely recognised as one of the best young comics working at the time.
Next, Judy Tenuta settled in Los Angeles, where she wrote and released Full Frontal Tenudity. She did the national tour circuit for quite some time, with frequent stops in Chicago.
She also provided her voice for a number of animated series, including Duckman, Cow and Chicken, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, and many more.
Tenuta played bit parts in a number of films and TV shows, including The Weird Al Show. She became well-known as a result of her performances in shows like Menopause the Musical and The V***na Monologues. In the 1980s, she rose to fame thanks to commercials she starred in for MTV and Diet Dr. Pepper, and her comedy CDs earned her Grammy nominations.
Instrument of Love and Submission
Her heart-shaped face, topped by bouffant hair with a flower accent, conveyed an impression of sweet innocence that was quickly shattered by her loud, gravelly delivery and acidic humor, expletives included. The accordion she made part of her act was “an instrument of love and submission,” as she fondly called it.
She belonged to the generation of comics who made places like the Comedy Store and Laff Stop in Los Angeles and Houston and Caroline’s in New York City hotspots for comedy fans everywhere. Females like Tenuta were able to carve out a space for themselves in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
“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 her on his 1990s TV series and a 2006 music video. “Earth has truly lost a goddess.”
Devastated to hear of the passing of my dear, dear friend, the lovely Miss Judy Tenuta. I can’t believe she’s gone. Earth has truly lost a goddess. pic.twitter.com/TiRuWTARiB
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) October 6, 2022
Tenuta, Jerry Seinfeld’s counterpart as best male comedy club performer, won a “American Comedy Award” in 1988. Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, and Robin Williams were also recognised that year for their club or movie work.