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Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: September 17, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Coconut Grove, Florida, USA Profession: comedian, screenwriter, actor, dancer, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This wide-eyed brunette comic "speaks softly and carries a big shtick" through an act that combines shrewd observations about life and the world with a soubrette's voice and a demeanor that makes one want to help her across the street. Rita Rudner has conquered the stand-up stage and expanded into writing and performing in films produced by her husband, Martin Bergman.An only child, Rudner graduated from high school in 1971 and by the following year had convinced her father to let her move from the Miami, FL, area to NYC in order to pursue a career as a dancer. It took three years, but Rudner made it into the chorus line of a touring company of "Zorba." She subsequently appeared in the Broadway productions of "Mack and Mabel" (1975), "They're Playing Our Song" (1979) and played Miss Hannigan's gangster moll sister-in-law Lily in "Annie" in 1980.As her dancing legs began to go, Rudner broke into TV commercials, filming more than 60 of them, and began appearing with a stand-up comedy act at clubs in New York City. By 1985, she had made her first TV appearance as a comic in "Rodney Dangerfield Hosts the 9th Annual Young Comedians Special" (HB0). Rudner made numerous appearances on "The Morning Program"...

This wide-eyed brunette comic "speaks softly and carries a big shtick" through an act that combines shrewd observations about life and the world with a soubrette's voice and a demeanor that makes one want to help her across the street. Rita Rudner has conquered the stand-up stage and expanded into writing and performing in films produced by her husband, Martin Bergman.

An only child, Rudner graduated from high school in 1971 and by the following year had convinced her father to let her move from the Miami, FL, area to NYC in order to pursue a career as a dancer. It took three years, but Rudner made it into the chorus line of a touring company of "Zorba." She subsequently appeared in the Broadway productions of "Mack and Mabel" (1975), "They're Playing Our Song" (1979) and played Miss Hannigan's gangster moll sister-in-law Lily in "Annie" in 1980.

As her dancing legs began to go, Rudner broke into TV commercials, filming more than 60 of them, and began appearing with a stand-up comedy act at clubs in New York City. By 1985, she had made her first TV appearance as a comic in "Rodney Dangerfield Hosts the 9th Annual Young Comedians Special" (HB0). Rudner made numerous appearances on "The Morning Program" (CBS' ill-fated alternative to "Today") in 1987. However disastrous the show was for the network, it gave Rudner the national exposure she needed. She moved to Hollywood and hosted the short-lived NBC series "George Schlatter's Funny People" (1988) and also appeared in two films, the cub scout reunion mess "The Wrong Guys" (1988) and in the small role of Max Perlich's mother in "Gleaming the Cube" (1989). But mostly, Rudner expanded her reach as a comedian, touring the country and performing in Las Vegas. By 1989, she had landed her first solo gig on HBO with "One Night Stand: Rita Rudner". (Two others, "Born to Be Mild" 1990 and "Rita Rudner: Married Without Children" 1995 followed.) She has also appeared on several Bob Hope variety shows as well as numerous TV specials.

After her 1988 marriage to the Australian writer-producer Martin Bergman, Rudner began diving her time between the USA and the UK. In 1990, she starred in her own variety series, "Rita Rudner", for the BBC. (Episodes were later shown in the USA on A&E in 1991). The duo also began to write screenplays together. Kenneth Branagh directed their 1992 script "Peter's Friends", about a reunion of a collegiate theater troupe. Rudner played Branagh's self-absorbed actress wife in a cast that also featured Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton. Returning to L.A., Rudner and Bergman co-wrote 1996's "A Weekend in the Country", originally made as a theatrical release but later aired on the USA Network. In the film, Rudner was featured as a woman has become artificially inseminated and through coincidence meets the donor in the Napa Valley.

The comic has also written several books and has continued to perform on the road and in concert at least 12 weeks per year.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Thanks (2011)
2.
 Love Hurts (2009)
3.
 Weekend in the Country, A (1996) Sally Shelton
4.
 Peter's Friends (1992) Carol
5.
 That's Adequate (1989) Frieda Philby
6.
 Gleaming The Cube (1989) Mrs Yabbo
7.
 Las Vegas Live! (2004) Interviewee
9.
 Las Vegas (1996) Interviewee
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1972:
Left Florida and moved to NYC in hopes of becoming a dancer
1975:
Early Broadway appearance, in the chorus of "Mack and Mabel"
1979:
Appeared as one of a trio of singer-dancers in the Broadway production of "They're Playing Our Song"
1980:
Played Lily in the Broadway musical "Annie"
:
Became stand-up comedian
1987:
Had much national exposure through appearances on "The Morning Program" (CBS)
1988:
Co-hosted the NBC series "George Schlatter's Funny People"
1988:
Feature acting debut in the ensemble cast of "The Wrong Guys"
1989:
Appeared in first solo HBO comedy special, "One Night Stand: Rita Rudner"
1990:
Starred in eponymous TV variety show for BBC
1990:
Had second solo HBO comedy special, "Born to Be Mild"
1992:
Published first book, "Naked Beneath My Clothing: Tales of a Revealing Nature"
1992:
Screenwriting debut, "Peter's Friends"; also co-starred
1995:
Starred in third solo HBO comedy special "Married Without Children"
1996:
Co-wrote and co-starred in "A Weekend in the Country" (USA Network); originally made for theatrical release but later sold to TV
2003:
Hosted the syndicated talk show with B-list celebrity guests called "Ask Rita"
2004:
Performed stand-up at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"We like to write small romantic ensemble comedies. We don't want big explosions and special effects. We like to write the opposite of Quentin Tarantino movies where nobody is bleeding." --Rita Rudner to USA Today, June 11, 1996.

"That's the thing that drives us crazy about Hollywood. Waiting for something to happen." --Rita Rudner to USA Today, June 11, 1996.

"Rita and Martin both have real writing ability. [Besides,] Rita's fun to be around." --Kenneth Brannagh in People, 1992.

"I'd never heard anyone talk softly at a nightclub. Woody Allen had always been my favorite comic, and I thought Rita was very similar in attitude. Even better, she didn't look like Woody." --Martin Bergman in People, 1992.

"I don't think a family is for us. Maybe we're too selfish--we're both only children, you know. If I had a child, I'd want to spend a lot of time with it." --Rita Rudner in People.

"It's very satisfying every time I think of a new joke. I love live performing because it's immediate, because of the independence, the immediacy of it and the reception. I enjoy staying at home and writing, but that's on a different level." --Rudner quoted by Jeanette Carrillo in "Commedienne Pulls More Than Punch Lines Out of Her Hat" at www.lasvegassun.com/showbiz

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Martin Bergman. Screenwriter, producer. Australian; married 1988.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Abe Rudner. Lawyer.
mother:
Frances Rudner. Died c. 1969 of cancer.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Naked Beneath My Clothing: Tales of a Revealing Nature" Viking
"Rita Rudner's Guide to Men" Viking
"Tickled Pink" Pocket Books

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