Rita Rudner

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Rita Rudner
Rudner in August 2011
Born (1953-09-17) September 17, 1953 (age 70)[1]
Miami, Florida, United States
Years active1968–present
(m. 1988)

Rita Rudner (born September 17, 1953) [2] is an American comedian. Beginning her career as a Broadway dancer, Rudner noticed the lack of female comedians in New York City and turned to stand-up comedy, where she has performed 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.

Early life[edit]

Rudner was born in Miami, Florida,[3] the daughter of Frances,[4] an Orthodox Jewish homemaker from Brooklyn,[5] and Abe Rudner, a lawyer from the Catskills. Rudner grew up in a Jewish family in Coconut Grove. She began taking ballet lessons at age four. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was 13 and her father remarried.[3] She struggled to get along with her stepmother and felt a desire to become independent.[5] After graduating from high school at 15, Rudner left Miami and went to New York City to embark on a career as a dancer.[3] 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).[6][7] She took over the role of Lily St. Regis in the long-running musical Annie circa 1980,[8] and stayed with the company for over a year, leaving in 1981.


After starting her standup career in the late 1970s, Rudner made her network television debut on Late Night with David Letterman in 1982.[9] 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 as well as the HBO special Rodney Dangerfield's Young Comedians Special. 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

Since 2001, Rudner has performed almost exclusively in Las Vegas,[3] selling almost two million tickets and becoming the longest-running solo comedy show in Las Vegas.[13] 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.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Rudner is married to Martin Bergman, a British producer. They have an adopted daughter.[14][3]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Wrong Guys Pam
1989 Gleaming the Cube Mrs. Yabbo
1989 That's Adequate Frieda Philby
1992 Peter's Friends Carol Benson also writer
1995 Goldilocks and the Three Bears Ursula
2009 Love Hurts Lisa Levanthorp
2011 Thanks Bunny


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Tales from the Crypt Rolanda "Whirlpool" episode
1995 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Rita (voice) "Real Estate" episode, also additional material writer
1996 A Weekend in the Country Sally Shelton TV movie, also writer
1997 Something So Right Brooke "Something About New Beds and Old Friends" episode
1998-99 The Nanny Margot / Rita Rudner "The Dummy Twins" and "Making Whoopi" episodes
2000 V.I.P. Bidder at Art Auction "Dangerous Beauty" episode
2000 Hollywood Off-Ramp "Unfunny Girl" episode
2000 As Told by Ginger Mrs. Fleming (voice) "Of Lice and Friends" episode
2008 Victor Borge: 100 Years of Music & Laughter! Narrator (voice) TV movie
2011 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself "Ru Ha Ha" episode
2012 Melissa & Joey Monica Burke "Mother of All Problems" episode
2016 Dice Rita Rudner "Prestige" episode
2019 This Is Not Happening Herself 1 episode, also writer
2022 Magnum P.I. Patty "Welcome to Paradise, Now Die" episode


Year Title Notes
1990 Rita Rudner TV series (6 episodes)
2001 73rd Academy Awards Special material
2002 74th Academy Awards Special material
2003 Ask Rita TV series (10 episodes)
2003 75th Academy Awards Special material

Comedy specials[edit]

Year Title Studio Formats
1987 Appears on On Location: Women of the Night HBO Broadcast/VHS
1989 One Night Stand HBO Broadcast/VHS/streaming
1990 Born to Be Mild HBO Broadcast/VHS
1995 Married Without Children HBO Broadcast/VHS
2008 Live from Las Vegas PBS Broadcast/DVD/download/streaming
2012 Rita Rudner and 3 Potential Ex-Husbands Showtime/LOLflix Broadcast/download/streaming
2018 A Tale of Two Dresses Comedy Dynamics Audio & video download/streaming
2020 Laugh Out Loud Flix LOLflix Streaming


Year Title Publisher Formats
1993 Naked Beneath My Clothes: Tales of a Revealing Nature Penguin Books Print: Hardcover/Paperback, Audiobook: Cassette/CD
1994 Rita Rudner's Guide To Men Viking Adult Hardcover/Paperback
2001 Tickled Pink: A Comic Novel Atria Books Print: Hardcover/Large Print/Paperback/E-book, Audiobook: CD/download/streaming
2006 Turning the Tables: A Novel Crown Hardcover
2009 I Still Have It... I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It: Confessions of a Fiftysomething Crown Hardcover/Large Print/Paperback/E-book


  1. ^ "Birthday: Rita Rudner". madison.com. September 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "Comedian Rita Rudner bares her (Jewish) soul". J. July 17, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e 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. Archived from the original on September 15, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  4. ^ "Obituary for Frances C RUDNER (Aged 46) - Newspapers.com". The Miami News. June 30, 1967. p. 27.
  5. ^ a b Glassman, Marvin (February 21, 2017). "Rudner often includes Jewish upbringing in her act". Sun Sentinel.
  6. ^ Teeman, Tim (July 14, 2019). "Rita Rudner On Getting 'Cut' By Bob Fosse, Finding Her Comedy Voice, Sexism, and NBC's 'Disgraceful' New Show". Daily Beast.
  7. ^ Clear, Marty (February 22, 2017). "Rita Rudner brings her stand-up comedy to McCurdy's". Bradenton Herald.
  8. ^ Soltes, John (July 16, 2019). "INTERVIEW: Rita Rudner on her exciting, daunting return to NY theater". hollywoodsoapbox.com.
  9. ^ "Comedy legend Rita Rudner performs at Artis-Naples". news.wgcu.org. PBS. March 17, 2022.
  10. ^ Rita Rudner: Married Without Children (a.k.a. HBO Comedy Hour (06/24/95)) at the TCM Movie Database
  11. ^ "Interview: Rita Rudner". SanDiego.com. March 1, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  12. ^ a b 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.
  13. ^ Fuller, Amy (May 9, 2018). "Comedian Rita Rudner brings her famous one-liners to the Raue Saturday". The Daily Herald. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  14. ^ "Just a Minute with: Comedian Rita Rudner slams 50". Reuters. May 15, 2008.

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