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Comedy Store Owner Mitzi Shore Dies at 87

Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore died Wednesday, according to a statement from the Comedy Store. She was 87.

“It is with great sadness and very heavy hearts that we report the passing of Mitzi Shore, the legendary Godmother of the world famous Comedy Store,” the statement said. “Mitzi was an extraordinary businesswoman and decades ahead of her time who cultivated and celebrated the artistry of stand-up comedy. She was also a loving mother, not only to her own four children, but to the myriad of comedians who adored her.  She leaves behind an indelible mark and legacy and has helped change the face of comedy. We will all miss her dearly.”

The Comedy Store will be closed Wednesday in her honor.

Her son, comedian Pauly Shore, who had previously tweeted about his mother’s deteriorating condition, paid tribute on social media. “My heart lays heavy,” he wrote.

Mitzi Shore founded the legendary Los Angeles comedy club the Comedy Store in 1972 and became owner two years later. During her tenure, she influenced careers of up-and-coming comedians such as Robin Williams, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Chevy Chase, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock and Richard Pryor.

Mitzi Shore is credited for naming the club, which co-founded by her husband at the time, Sammy Shore, and fellow comedian Rudy DeLuca. When Sammy and Mitzi divorced in 1974, Mitzi gained ownership of the club. The Comedy Store building on Sunset Boulevard was formerly occupied by popular Hollywood nightclub Ciro’s.

At the Comedy Club, Shore famously did not pay her comics, insisting the club provided training to hone their craft, along with exposure to industry insiders. Eventually, comedians went on strike in 1979, demanding to be paid for their work.

During the strike, comic Steve Lubetkin committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the hotel next door. He left a note that read: “My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at The Comedy Store.”

The strike eventually ended with Shore agreeing to pay comics per set.

In addition to the Comedy Club’s main room, Shore converted the upstairs section into the Belly room, where she exclusively showcased female comics. Later, she opened Comedy Store locations in Westwood, Universal City, La Jolla, Calif., Las Vegas and Honolulu.

Shore was born in Michigan and grew up in Wisconsin. She studied at the University of Wisconsin before leaving to marry Sammy. The two moved to Los Angeles in 1964. The couple had four children: Peter, Scott, Pauly and Sandy.

Showtime’s series “I’m Dying Up Here,” based on William Knoedelseder’s best selling book, portrayed the Los Angeles stand-up scene of the early 1970s. The comedy club owner, Goldie, is loosely based on Mitzi.

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