Who is Rita Rudner?
Rita Rudner is an American actress, comedian, screenplay writer and author, well known in the comedy circuit for her soft, light-hearted humorous one-liners, based mostly on the dynamics of relationships between men and women. Rudner started out as a chorus line dancer with Broadway shows in New York but after struggling with that for a while, she jumped onto doing stand-up comedy acts at clubs in New York City. She made a career change because at the time stand-up comedy was not as much competitive for women and Rudner had a knack for comedy. She soon got some exposure on the television through television commercials at first and then she started to get recognition as a comedian through TV shows like ‘Tonight Show With Johnny Carson’, ‘Late Night With David Letterman’, etc. As she got more and more air time on the television, she began to get more creative opportunities - HBO offered her a solo act on its network ‘Rita Rudner’s One Night Stand’, followed by ‘Born To Be Mild’ and ‘Married Without Children’. She is also a bestselling author for books that are witty and humorous, like, ‘Guide To Men’, ‘Naked Beneath My Clothes’, etc. She lives with her family in Vegas now where she does cabarets and production shows.
Childhood & Early Life
Rita Rudner was born in Florida to Abe and Frances Rudner. Her father was a lawyer and her mother died when she was 13. She finished her high school when she was 15 and moved to New York.
Rudner moved to New York in order to become a dancer in 1972. She had to struggle to make a place for herself and in three years she became a part of the chorus line of a touring company of ‘Zorba’.
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Rudner’s struggle in New York to be recognized as a dancer started to pay off after joining ‘Zorba’, she appeared in a number of Broadway productions: ‘Mack and Mabel (1975)’, ‘They’re Playing Our Song (1979)’ and ‘Annie (1980)’.
Rudner made a swift career change and started appearing in television commercials. She did around 60 ads and while she was at it, she made use of her humorous skills by performing stand-up acts at clubs in New York.
In 1982, Rudner got her first media exposure as a comedian when she got a chance to appear in the ‘Catch A Rising Star’s 10th annual comedian special’ along with already established comedians like, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.
Things were moving uphill for her and she appeared on CBS’s ‘The Morning Program’ in 1987. In the following year, her hard work paid off when she got a chance to appear on the ‘Tonight Show With Johnny Carson’.
Rudner got enough media exposure to become a regular on television and she appeared on many shows on American and Britain television networks. She also made appearances on ‘The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson’ and ‘Late Night With David Letterman’.
Rudner was becoming famous now and appeared on HBO’s ‘9th Annual Comedians Special’, ‘Stand Up America’, ‘The Comedy Club’, ‘Funny People’ and Showtime’s female comedian special––‘Women of the Night’.
In 1989, she got the esteemed and much needed opportunity of her career by getting a solo spot on HBO - ‘Rita Rudner’s One Night Stand’. Her performance was critically acclaimed and she was nominated for Cable Ace Awards.
Rudner wrote and published her first book in 1989, ‘Naked Beneath My Clothes’. It was declared a bestseller the moment it hit the market and its audio version too became very famous and was nominated for a Grammy.
Rudner did HBO’s ‘Born To Be Mild’ in 1990 and starred in her very first talk show called ‘Rita Rudner’ and won Cable Ace Awards for it. But the show was taken off air after its first season.
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Throughout this time, she kept appearing on television with her cable specials like, ‘George Burn’s 95 Birthday Party’ along with Steve Allen, Red Buttons, etc., ‘Comic Relief V’ and another solo with HBO ‘Married Without Children’.
She co-wrote the screenplay of the film ‘Pete’s Friends’ in 1992, along with her husband Martin Bergman. The film won two Evening Standards British Film Awards and it was also Rudner’s acting debut in Hollywood.
In 1994, Rudner again achieved great success with her next bestselling book ‘Guide to Men’, which was a humorous book on men, women and the relationships they share. This was followed by her semi-autobiographical tale, ‘Ticked Pink’.
Rudner signed a contract to perform solely at the New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, in cabarets and production shows in 2001 and a cabaret theatre was built exclusively for her at the MGM Grand.
In 2003, she aired her first syndicated daily TV show ‘Ask Rita’, which is a daytime talk and advise show. It was nominated for a Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Television and Radio.
She came out with another novel in 2006––the romantic fictional novel titled ‘Turning the Tables’. She has been working on writing a musical with her husband, titled ‘Natural Woman’.
Rudner’s first solo spot on HBO in 1989, ‘‘Rita Rudner’s One Night Stand’, made her into a well-known comedian. Her fame was consolidated when she worked with HBO again in ‘Born To Be Mild’ and ‘Married Without Children’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1988, Rudner got married to Martin Bergman who is a British producer, writer and director, known for his work in Hollywood. The couple has an adopted daughter named Molly and the family lives in Las Vegas.
Rudner opted for stand-up comedy after her career in Broadway dancing because at the time comedy was a less competitive field for women.
Just to achieve one hit sitcom, Rudner did many pilots but none of them were ever of any consequence.