Judy Tenuta, Sassy ‘Goddess of Love’ Comedian, Dies at 65

Judy Tenuta, a sassy comedian who brazenly cast herself as the “Goddess of Love” and toured with George Carlin as she built her career in the golden age of comedy in the 1980s, died Thursday. She was 65 years old.

Tenuta died Thursday afternoon at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her family, publicist Roger Neal told The Associated Press.

“She was an amazing artist and so much fun,” Neal said, and it was always a “happy time to be around her.”

Her heart-shaped face, topped by bouncy hair with a hint of flower, conveyed an impression of sweet innocence that was quickly shattered by her strong, deep voice and acid humor, including swearing. The accordion that was part of her act was “an instrument of love and submission”, as she affectionately called it.

He was part of a generation of performers who fueled the popularity of stand-up comedy in clubs across the country, including the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, the Laff Stop in Houston, and Caroline’s in New York City. A typically male-dominated field found room for women, including Tenuta.

Tenuta gained national attention in 1987 with “Women of the Night,” an HBO special in which she starred alongside Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone and Rita Rudner.

On the 1988 “American Comedy Awards” television special, Tenuta was named best female comedy club performer alongside male winner Jerry Seinfeld. Others honored that year for her work in the club or on screen included Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler.

“I’d change it in a minute, if only I could be a wife and a mother,” joked Tenuta, wrapped in gold paper and chewing gum, accepting her award from Carlin.