Honey B Friedman

Honey B Friedman

Honey Bruce Friedman Dies at 78; Entertainer and 'Lenny's Shady Lady'

    Honey Bruce Friedman, a former nightclub entertainer who in 2003 helped win a posthumous pardon for her ex-husband, the comedian Lenny Bruce, on a 39-year-old obscenity conviction, died on Sept. 12 at a hospital in Honolulu. She was 78 and a Honolulu resident.

    The cause was complications of colitis, her daughter, Kitty Bruce, said.

    At various times a singer, dancer, stripper, carnival performer, film actress, clothing designer and memoirist, Ms. Friedman was married to Bruce from 1951 until their divorce in 1957. Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966, at 40.

    In 2003, Gov. George E. Pataki of New York pardoned Bruce, who was convicted in 1964 of giving obscene performances at the Cafe au Go Go in Greenwich Village. With her daughter, Ms. Friedman lent her support to the campaign to win the pardon.

    Ms. Friedman was born Harriett Jolliff in Manila, Ark., on Aug. 15, 1927, and raised in Detroit. As a teenager, she ran away from home to dance with a carnival. While still in her teens, she was convicted, along with several friends, of attempting to rob a candy machine, and spent more than a year in jail.

    Shortly after her release, she began working as a stripper under the name Hot Honey Harlowe. After an early marriage that ended in divorce, she wed Bruce, breaking off a relationship with a woman she loved to be with him.

    The couple's six-year marriage was Ozzie and Harriet as reimagined by William S. Burroughs. Ms. Friedman sewed outfits for Bruce. They shopped for wallpaper. They injected heroin. She served jail time for marijuana possession.

    In later years, Ms. Friedman, who overcame addictions to drugs and alcohol, designed clothing, with a shop in Honolulu. She was the author of a memoir, "Honey: The Life and Loves of Lenny's Shady Lady" (Playboy Press, 1976, with Dana Benenson).

    Ms. Friedman appeared in two films, "Dance Hall Racket" (1953), which also starred Bruce and his mother, Sally Marr; and "Princess of the Nile" (1954). She was featured in the 1998 documentary "Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth," and was portrayed by Valerie Perrine in Bob Fosse's film "Lenny" (1974).

    Besides her daughter, who lives in Pennsylvania, Ms. Friedman is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Friedman, whom she married in 1984.

    Honey Friedman -- former wife of comedian Lenny Bruce

      Honey Bruce Friedman, a onetime nightclub singer and stripper best known as the former wife of legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, has died. She was 78.

      Ms. Friedman died Monday in a Honolulu hospital after a long illness, said publicist Jeff Abraham.

      Ms. Friedman was working as a stripper under the name Honey Harlowe (a.k.a. Hot Honey Harlowe) when she first met Bruce, then a fledgling comic, in a Baltimore hotel coffee shop.

      He was, she later wrote, "the most handsome man I'd seen in my life." They were married in 1951.

      At first, according to Gerald Nachman's book "Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s," Bruce tried to reform her and turn her into a respectable singer, called "The Singing Southern Belle, Honey Michelle." The couple did an act together, in which they both sang and teamed up on movie parodies such as one on "The Bride of Frankenstein," in which the monster picked Honey Bruce up in a pizza parlor.

      Lenny Bruce, who became known as a First Amendment martyr for his legal problems over onstage language, later referred to his wife in his act as the "beautiful mama with the long red hair."

      But the marriage, which was marked by extensive heroin use by both of them and also the birth of their daughter, Kitty, ended in 1957 after less than six years.

      Ms. Friedman was portrayed by Valerie Perrine in the 1974 movie "Lenny," starringDustin Hoffman. Her book, "Honey: The Life and Loves of Lenny's Shady Lady," was published in 1977, at which point she said she had been "clean" for more than seven years after a 16-year drug addiction.

      Born Harriett Jolliff in Manila, Ark., she grew up in Detroit, where problems with her stepfather caused her to run away from home as a teenager.

      At 17, after falling into disreputable company, she found herself serving a year in a state prison. She later joined a carnival, where she developed a taste for show business and exotic dancing. After a brief and disastrous first marriage, she became a nightclub singer and a successful stripper in Miami.

      In 2003, Ms. Friedman was one of the many people who signed a petition that paved the way for New York Gov. George Pataki to give Lenny Bruce a posthumous pardon for obscenity. He died in 1966 of a drug overdose.

      Ms. Friedman, who had lived in Honolulu more than two decades, is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Friedman, and her daughter Kitty Bruce.