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Lotus Weinstock; Comedian and Author

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lotus Weinstock, stand-up comedian and author of a popular book of anecdotes, “The Lotus Position,” has died of a brain tumor. She was 54.

She died Sunday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hollywood.

Born Marlene Weinstock to a wealthy Philadelphia family, she described her humor as the compromise of her California cosmic right brain and her “Philadelphia Jewish” left brain. “The Lotus in me wants to be totally free. Weinstock will settle for a discount,” she would say in her shows at the Improv and the Comedy Store and in her 1982 book, which sold 63,000 copies.

Never mean and never ridiculing others, Weinstock intelligently poked fun at health food, marijuana, cancer cures, extrasensory perception, motherhood and the husband she never lived with but who fathered her daughter, Lili Haydn.

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“I was married to him for 18 years,” went one line. “He was married to me for three. Possibly.”

Other popular quips included:

“Unrequited love is just God’s way of saying, ‘Imagine how I feel.’ ”

“Remember, angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

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“I married Mr. Right. Mr. always right.”

“Does God like us better when we’re thin?”

After her daughter’s birth, Weinstock focused much of her humor on motherhood and frequently had her small daughter introduce her: “She’s my mom; her show is very funny.” In 1988, Weinstock dealt with her separation anxiety over Lily’s leaving for Brown University by writing the two-person play “Molly and Maze.”

The mother and daughter performed the work at Beverly Hills’ Eagle Theater and, after Lily’s graduation four years later, presented an amended version in San Diego at the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre Company’s Hahn Cosmopolitan.

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Weinstock appeared on national television on “The New Smothers Brothers Show” and “The Merv Griffin Show.”

“I felt like I had finally arrived,” she told The Times in 1984, “when my mother, who didn’t like me doing stand-up--she thought it was a sordid lifestyle--saw me on ‘Merv’ and phoned to say, ‘You’ve achieved the ultimate--you’re feminine, profound and funny.’ ”

In recent years, Weinstock had acting roles on the television series “St. Elsewhere” and “L.A. Law.” She also appeared on “Politically Incorrect.”

She often played piano in her acts and made up lyrics to songs as she went along.

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Weinstock performed at benefits for small comedy clubs and was president of the board of directors of the private Sheenway School and Culture Center in Watts.

She dropped out of Emerson College in Boston to perform in New York’s Greenwich Village, using the name Maurey Hayden. There she met comedian Lenny Bruce and was engaged to him when he died of a drug overdose in 1966. She is featured in an HBO documentary, “Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth,” scheduled to be telecast next year.

In addition to her daughter, Weinstock is survived by two brothers, Bennett of Philadelphia and James of Los Angeles.

A public memorial service is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Improvisation, 8162 Melrose Ave. The family has requested that any memorial donations be made to the Sheenway School for a “Lotus Scholarship.”

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