Judy Tenuta was a brash stand-up comedian who dubbed herself the “Goddess of Love.” She also toured with George Carlin during the golden age of comedy in the 1980s. Unfortunately, she died on Thursday at the age of 72.
AP News reports, Tenuta died Thursday afternoon at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her family. The outlet was informed by publicist Roger Neal. Ovarian cancer was the cause of death. “She was a very funny, amazing performer,” Neal said, and it was always a “happy time to be around her.”
Tenuta claimed to have been born on November 7, 1965. However, she was born in 1949, according to Neal. “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. Her heart-shaped face, topped by bouffant hair with a flower accent, gave the image of sweet innocence, which was swiftly shattered by her loud, gravelly speech and acidic humor, which included expletives.
The accordion she used in her act was affectionately referred to as “an instrument of love and submission.” Weird Al Yankovic, who worked with her on his 1990s TV series and a 2006 music video, tweeted out to say, “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.” Michael McKean, of “Spinal Tap” fame, tweeted, “One of a kind. Damn.”
Judy was part of a generation of comedians who helped to popularize live comedy in clubs around the nation, including the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, the Laff Stop in Houston, and Caroline’s in New York City. Tenuta made a place for herself in a traditionally male-dominated field. R.I.P