Rudner was born in Miami, Florida, the daughter of Frances, a homemaker, and Abe Rudner, a lawyer. Her mother died 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. 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 U.S. and the UK, 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).
Rudner and her producer husband, Martin Bergman, wrote the screenplay of the film Peter's Friends, in which she also acted. She is the author of the best-selling 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 theatre at Harrah's in 2006 and is currently contracted to appear there through January 2012. She also recently 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 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.
- "Comic learns that comedy, tragedy can go hand-in-hand" by Tami Bickley, Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, Vol. 51, No. 24, March 12, 1999
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