(CNN) — Mitzi Shore, who could make and break careers as the owner of the Comedy Store, has died after battling Parkinson’s disease. She was 87.
A who’s who of legendary comedians passed through the Sunset Strip club, with David Letterman once describing Shore as a “den mother” to the eccentric assortment of personalities that jockeyed for stage time.
The 1970s and ’80s were an especially fertile and defining period for standup, and Shore was a key gatekeeper, showcasing performers like Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, Garry Shandling, and Roseanne Barr. The holy grail for comics was parlaying that into an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
Those years have been dramatized in the Showtime series “I’m Dying Up Here,” which stars Melissa Leo as a Shore-like figure. Jim Carrey, another Comedy Store graduate, is among the producers of the show, which begins its second season in May.
“No words can express the gratitude I have for her,” Carrey tweeted about Shore, amid an outpouring from comics citing her role in their careers. “We met in 1979. She opened the door to my dreams! If she loved you, you did well. If she didn’t, you did something else.”
Shore took over the club in the mid-1970s, after her divorce from comic Sammy Shore, who co-founded it. (Shore famously took the club in exchange for a reduction in alimony payments.)
Her four children included actor/comic Pauly Shore.