Actress, comedian, Judy Tenuta, known as “The Love Goddess”, dead at 72

Judy Tenuta in 2013. By Glenn Francis of, Toglenn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https


Judy Lynn Tenuta (November 7, 1949 – October 6, 2022) was an American comedian, actress, and comedy musician. She was known for her whimsical and brash persona of “The Love Goddess,” mixing insult comedyobservational humor, self-promotion, and bawdy onstage antics. Throughout her career, Tenuta built a niche but devoted following, particularly among members of the LGBTQ community. Tenuta wrote two comedy books, and received two nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

Tenuta died in Studio City, California, on October 6, 2022, at the age of 72, from stage 4 ovarian cancer, with which she had been diagnosed in 2020. At the time of her death she had been in a long-term relationship with Vern Pang; she had no children.


Tenuta began her comedy career performing openers and small time shows on the Chicago comedy circuit in the late 1970s. During her first performance, Tenuta shocked audiences by dressing up as the Virgin Mary, and after being encouraged by her friends to incorporate an accordion into her routine, she began to develop the character into her iconic persona as the wisecracking “Love Goddess”.

After building a fiery reputation as one of the “hottest young comics around,” Tenuta left Chicago in the late 1980s and moved to New York City to host an HBO Comedy Special with Ellen DeGeneresRita Rudner, and Paula Poundstone. By the mid-1980s, Tenuta uprooted again, moving to Los Angeles, where she published her book Full Frontal Tenudity about life in Hollywood. During her time in Los Angeles, Tenuta harbored a fiercely independent attitude, openly rejecting Hollywood beauty standards and celebrity life. She continued to perform on national tours for years afterwards, making special visits to the Chicago circuit.