A favorite of the talk show circuit and a rarity in the age of brassy, outspoken female comics, Rita Rudner has a soft-spoken, low-key style that fronts for an incisive wit unmatched by the majority of her contemporaries. A Miami native who had starry-eyed, childhood dreams of dancing under the bright lights of Broadway, Rudner left home at the age of 15 and bypassed college to seek fame on the stage. Initial exposure in a traveling production of Zorba preceded Broadway roles in Annie and Promises, Promises, and a bid to go solo a few years later sparked an interest in standup comedy. Though the prospect of "dying" on-stage (popular comedian-speak for bombing in front of an audience) frightened Rudner at first, she eventually gathered her nerves and became quite popular; in the years that followed, she gained nationwide exposure on the Johnny Carson and David Letterman shows. Her wry brand of observant and insightful comedy was inspired by the early work of Woody Allen, and in 1990 she received an award for Best Female Standup Comedian. Her unique comic persona also gained a notable following in the U.K., where in 1990 Rudner headlined a short-lived BBC series. While in Britain, Rudner also found love with former BBC comedy writer Martin Bergmann, who became her frequent writing partner. In addition to penning the screenplay for Kenneth Branagh's film Peter's Friends, the two also collaborated in the Bergmann-directed comedy A Weekend in the Country (1996). Though she made history by becoming the first female comic to be invited to a Friar's Club "roast," her frustration with the lack of roles for smart women was often evident in interviews. In 2003, Rudner took a stab at U.S. television with Ask Rita, a daily talk/advice program.