American comedian, actor, and comedic musician Judy Lynn Tenuta (November 7, 1949 – October 6, 2022). She combined insult comedy, observational humour, self-promotion, and bawdy onstage antics to create her signature identity, “The Love Goddess.” Tenuta has garnered a small but passionate fan base, especially within the LGBTQ community. Tenuta has been nominated for the Grammy for Best Humor Album twice, and he has written two comedy books.
Tenuta was born on November 7, 1949, in Oak Park, Illinois, to a Roman Catholic mother named Joann (originally from Poland) and a father named Caesar (originally from Italy). She was the eighth of nine children. She went to the University of Illinois at Chicago and majored in drama after growing up in a very Irish-Catholic area and graduating from Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester.
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Judy Tenuta’s Career
In the 1970s, Tenuta began her career in comedy as an opener and in smaller events on the Chicago comedy circuit. Tenuta’s first performance was a big hit because she dressed up as the Virgin Mary, and later, with the help of her friends and an accordion, she turned Mary into her signature wisecracking “Love Goddess” character.
Tenuta travelled to New York City from Chicago after becoming known as one of the “hottest young comics around” and hosting an HBO Comedy Special alongside Ellen DeGeneres, Rita Rudner, and Paula Poundstone. In the 1980s, Tenuta once again uprooted her life and moved to Los Angeles, where she wrote the memoir Full Frontal Tenudity.
Tenuta was a fiercely independent spirit during her time in Los Angeles, publicly rejecting Hollywood beauty standards and the celebrity lifestyle. Many years later, she made special appearances on the Chicago circuit while on a national tour.
Tenuta’s voice was well-suited for voice-over roles in various cartoons because of her usage of it in her stand-up routine. She voiced Edna in the Duckman cartoon, Munch Kelly in the prohibited episode of Cow and Chicken called “Buffalo Gals,” Black Widow in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast cartoon, and herself in Dr Katz, Professional Therapist cartoon.
In Butch Camp, she played the character of the domineering disciplinarian Samantha Rottweiler, and in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, she played the part of the outspoken librarian Mrs Holler. She has appeared in scores of small parts, including guest spots on The Weird Al Show and in “Weird Al” Yankovic’s comedic shorts and music videos.
Tenuta’s playing career wasn’t limited to television; she also appeared on stage in productions like The Vagina Monologues and Menopause the Musical. As a comedian, Tenuta has published two books, Full Frontal Tenudity and The Power of Judaism, and has recorded five comedy CDs, two of which, Attention Butt-Pirates and Lesbetarians! and In Goddess, We Trust, were nominated for Grammys in the “Best Comedy Album” category.
Judy Tenuta’s Death
Tenuta passed away on October 6, 2022, in Studio City, California, at the age of 72, from stage 4 ovarian cancer, which she had been diagnosed within 2020. Tenuta’s death was caused by the disease. She had been in a committed relationship with Vern Pang at the time of her passing, although she did not have any children of her own. Her last resting place will be in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
What Was Judy’s Cause of Death?
Variety announced on October 6 that Judy had passed away in Los Angeles from ovarian cancer. Publicist Roger Neal described his client, a two-time Grammy Award nominee, as “a really humorous, great performer,” and said working with her was “always a happy time to be around her” in an interview with The Associated Press.
People who had the pleasure of working with Judy in the comedy world, such as longtime friend and humorous musician “Weird Al” Yankovic, were quick to post a homage to her on social media after her passing.
The 62-year-old Grammy winner tweeted, “[I’m] devastated to hear of the demise of my dear, dear friend, the lovely Miss Judy Tenuta.” “To think that she is no longer here is beyond my comprehension. Indeed, a goddess has been lost to Earth.”
In addition, Pee-wee Herman devoted a Twitter thread to the Love Goddess. “That Judy Tenuta was so great, I adored her. She was brilliantly and uniquely funny, but she was also so profoundly attractive on the inside that she skipped the angel waiting list. I’m willing to guess that all the venerable angels in heaven are sharing a good belly laugh with Judy right this minute.”
“To put it simply, she was lovely and sophisticated. Her demeanour was utterly innocent. A woman of great depth, intelligence, and solemnity, “Pee-wee elaborated. “She was an amazing person, and her performances reflected that. In such a situation, she’d glow, become magnetic, and make you roar with laughter. Totally and completely unique, that was she. Unique; defiant; a rebel. I miss you terribly and know I will never forget you, Judy.”