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Rita Rudner (born September 17, 1953) is an American comedian. Beginning her career as a Broadway dancer, Rita Rudner noticed the lack of female comedians in New York City and turned to stand-up comedy where she has flourished for over three decades. Her performance on a variety of HBO specials and numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, helped establish Rudner as one of the premier comics to emerge from the comedy boom of the 1980s.
Rita Rudner in August 2011
|Born||September 17, 1953|
Miami, Florida, United States
|Years active||1968–present (dancing)|
|Spouse||Martin Bergman (1988–present; 1 child)|
Rudner was born in Miami, Florida, the daughter of Frances, a homemaker, and Abe Rudner, a lawyer. She began taking ballet lessons at age 4. She is Jewish. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was 13. After graduating from high school at 15, Rudner left Miami and headed to New York City to embark on a career as a dancer. Beginning with a small role in Promises, Promises (joining the production in 1970), she appeared in several Broadway shows, including the now-legendary original productions of Follies (1971) and Mack & Mabel (1974). She took over the role of Lily St. Regis in the long-running musical Annie circa 1979, and stayed with the company for over a year, leaving in 1981.
Rudner did not turn to comedy until she was 25, after observing how few female comedians there were compared to the number of female dancers. She spent many hours researching her favorite comedians, including Woody Allen and Jack Benny. She enjoys Jewish humor, but reserves her Jewish jokes for Jewish audiences.
After starting her standup career in the late 1970s, Rudner made her network television debut on Late Night with David Letterman in 1982. She appeared frequently on television shows both in the US and the UK (recording a six-part series on BBC2 in 1990 in the latter), and she appeared often on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She has recorded several award-winning comedy specials, most notably Rita Rudner: Born to Be Mild and Rita Rudner: Married Without Children for HBO and Rita Rudner: Live From Las Vegas for PBS in 2008.
Rudner and her husband wrote the screenplay of the 1992 film Peter's Friends, in which she also acted. Rudner also has a role as the character Bunny in her husband's 2011 film Thanks, which had its world premiere at the 2011 Palm Springs Film Festival.
Rudner is the author of the books I Still Have It; I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It, Naked Beneath My Clothes and the novels Tickled Pink and Turning The Tables. She has written several screenplays and plays with her husband. In January 2016, she appeared in a new play titled Act 3... alongside Charles Shaughnessy at the Laguna Playhouse, directed by Martin Bergman.
Since 2001, Rudner has performed almost exclusively in Las Vegas, selling almost two million tickets and becoming the longest-running solo comedy show in Las Vegas. She moved to a larger theater at The Venetian in January 2011. She also created and hosted the syndicated improvisational comedy show Ask Rita, which mimicked the format of a talk/advice show. For this she received a Gracie Allen Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWM). In May 2009 she performed for Senator Harry Reid and President Barack Obama at Caesars Palace alongside Bette Midler and Sheryl Crow.
- Seabaugh, Julie (June 5, 2008). "The Simple Life of Rita Rudner; Fame, Fortune, Two Thousand Shows, Five Books, a Play, a Husband, a Daughter". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Rita Rudner Biography (1955?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Rita Rudner: Married Without Children (a.k.a. HBO Comedy Hour (06/24/95)) at the TCM Movie Database
- "Interview: Rita Rudner". SanDiego.com. March 1, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- Castle, George (April 14, 2017). "CLASSIC COMEDY: An interview with Rita Rudner, who's bringing her Las Vegas show to Skokie". Chicago Jewish News. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
- Fuller, Amy (May 9, 2018). "Comedian Rita Rudner brings her famous one-liners to the Raue Saturday". The Daily Herald. Retrieved August 31, 2018.