The comic actress manager, Roger Paul, confirmed the death of Judy Tenuta to The New York Times, stating that her cause of death was ovarian cancer. Tenuta was 72 years old.
“She was a very funny, amazing performer,” he said in a statement shared with The Associated Press, adding how it was always a “happy time to be around her.”
Tenuta previously claimed her date of birth was November 7, 1965, though she was born in 1949. “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 concluded.
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, Paul reflected on Tenuta’s life and legacy.
“Much of the rambunctious, zestful character that she portrayed onstage stemmed from her lively personality,” Paul said. “Judy was an ardent performer. Adding that blessed her with a uniquely keen wit, a propensity for outlandishness, and the ability to concoct wild worlds of fantasy and fun that permitted you to explore your imagination. I have had the joy and privilege of working with Judy for over 20 years, and she never ceased to surprise or amuse me.”
“Judy was a rare gem, a true, walking cherry bomb. Depending on her plan for the day, she could lift your spirits in a whirlwind of laughter or she could drive you bloody mad,” he continued. “And then somehow, when you needed it most, she could give you a call and make you feel enamoured and understood. Perhaps that was Judy’s intention with her comedy all along; to alleviate the stress and the pain from our lives and introduce us to her special hiding place where we can escape from it all.”
With her self-described “Love Goddess” persona, the comedian’s onstage style was bold and loud, critics have said, and mixed observational and insult humour with audience participation. Often, her performance was accompanied by an accordion.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Judy Tenuta shocked the audience during her first comedy routine by appearing as the Virgin Mary.