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'80s Diet Guru Puts a Fork in It

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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IN MEMORIAM Mazel

The shockingly blonde Judy Mazel, who authored the hit book The Beverly Hills Diet in 1981, died at a relatively young 63 from a heart condition linked to fatty deposits in the arteries this month, and was remembered this weekend at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Los Angeles, because really, where else would have been appropriate?

Mazel was responsible for one of the more hideous aspects of the '80s: The legion of women squeezed into their Guess jeans by subsisting on alternating meals of grapefruit, Wasa crackers, and cottage cheese. The diet guru's premature death may indicate that meal plan may not have been that good after all.

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Though she had no medical background, Mazel told followers she was tortured by being the only fatty in a family of skinnies, and that she "was inspired to become a diet counselor in 1974 when a disembodied voice told her to leave the freeway and buy cashews, a trip that led her to a health-food store and an old book on food combinations." Indeed, though the calorie load on the diet was a mere 800, Mazel induced celebs like Maria Shriver and Jack Nicholson to drop pounds by eating just one food at a time.

So we bid adieu to the woman whose motto was the fabulous, "Hamburgers and hipbones ... Cheesecake and cheekbones," regretting only that her "watermelon" flush plan didn't allow her to preach deprivation until she was a ripe (well, shriveled) old bird.

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