Joy Young Little, 59, of Bensalem, a comedy-club owner, died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday at St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown Township.
From 1980 to the early 1990s, Mrs. Little and her brother, Steve Young, operated the Comedy Works on Chestnut Street in Old City in Philadelphia. The club attracted the biggest names in the business, Young said, including Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, and Ray Romano. Young, who also did stand-up comedy at the club, said: "I was the face of the comedy club, Joy was the backbone. She ran the office and every aspect of the business."
In 1981, the siblings opened a comedy club at Resorts International in Atlantic City and later opened clubs in Wildwood and at Georgine's Restaurant in Bristol.
Mrs. Little continued to operate the Comedy Works at Georgine's Restaurant after her brother moved to the West Coast in the 1990s. "She was very funny and had an unbelievable singing voice, but she wouldn't get up on stage," Young said. She would give jokes to comedians and tell them how they could be better, he said, but she stayed in the background.
Mrs. Little grew up in Levittown. She studied hairdressing at Bucks County Technical High School and graduated from Neshaminy High School. She worked in area beauty salons before becoming a business owner.
She had a menagerie of pets, including a pig, a goat, two parrots, and three dogs, her brother said. She often took in two-legged strays as well as the four-legged kind, he said.
Mrs. Little had surgery for breast cancer more than a year ago and was collaborating with a physician on a book about the experience to help other patients. She often counseled women with cancer and was active in Gilda's Club, a support group.
In addition to her brother, Mrs. Little is survived by her husband of 35 years, Jimmy Little; her mother, Penny Young Sklar; sons Brian, Rich, and Kevin; and seven grandchildren.
The funeral will be at 11:30 a.m. today at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks Memorial Chapel, 310 Second Street Pike, Southampton.