Rita Rudner (born September 17, 1953) is an American comedian, writer and actress.
Rudner was born in Miami, Florida, the daughter of Frances, a homemaker, and Abe Rudner, a lawyer. Her mother died when she was 13 (an experience she detailed in a 2012 episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories). After graduating from high school at 15, Rudner left Miami and headed to New York City to embark on a career as a dancer. She appeared in several Broadway shows, including the now-legendary original productions of Follies and Mack & Mabel.
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.
Rudner has appeared in several 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 (now available on DVD). She also appeared on the Tales from the Crypt episode "Whirlpool".
Rudner and her husband and producer, Martin Bergman, wrote the screenplay of the 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 with her husband and a play called Room 776 which premiered in Las Vegas in 2008.
Since 2001, Rudner has performed almost exclusively in Las Vegas, selling over one million tickets. 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 American Women in Television and Radio. In May 2009 she performed for Senator Harry Reid and President Barack Obama at Caesars Palace alongside Bette Midler and Sheryl Crow; a video of some of this performance can be found on Rita's Facebook page or YouTube.
On August 8, 2012, Rudner appeared as Melissa's mom on the sitcom Melissa & Joey.
Rudner and her husband adopted a daughter, Molly, in 2002. They have homes in Las Vegas and Southern California.