Gilbert Gottfried, actor and renowned standup comic known for his raw, snarky voice and raw jokes, has passed away. He was 67 years old.
Gottfried died of a rare genetic muscle disease that can trigger a dangerously abnormal heartbeat, his publicist and longtime friend Glenn Schwartz said in a statement.
“In addition to being the most iconic voice in comedy, Gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to their two young children. Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as much as you can in Gilbert’s honor.” ,” his family said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Gottfried was a highly independent and deliberately quirky comedian’s comedian, who was as likely to clear a room with anti-comedy as he was to kill it with his jokes.
Standup comic Colin Quinn said on Twitter, “The first comedian to see who’s going to go ahead and go into the room to see all the other comics.”
He first came to national attention with repeated appearances in his early days on MTV and a brief stint in the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s.
Gottfried did frequent voice work for children’s television and films, most famously playing the parrot Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin”.
“Look at me, I’m so bummed I’m melting,” a scratchy-voiced Gottfried said at the beginning of the film, as his character sheds feathers.
He was particularly fond of doing obscure and dated impressions as long as he could milk them, which included Groucho Marx, Bela Lugosi and Andrew “Dice” Clay. He often performed those voices as a guest on The Howard Stern Show, prompting dozens of listeners to call and begging Stern to throw him.
In her early days at the Comedy Store, a Hollywood club, managers had her at the end of the night the impression of the then little-known Jerry Seinfeld, in order to get rid of sluggish patrons.
Gottfried was especially beloved by his fellow comedians and performers.
“I am deeply saddened to read of the passing of Gilbert Gottfried,” actor Marlee Matlin said on Twitter. “Funny, politically incorrect but a soft one on the inside. We met several times; he even joked with me on a plane instead of my interpreter.” (Gottfried was very similar to Matlin’s American sign language interpreter Jack Jason.)
“Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander tweeted that “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at a time when laughter didn’t come easily. What a gift.”
Gottfried was interviewed by The Associated Press last month after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on the Oscar night. Although he took the attack seriously, saying it could put other comedians in danger, he could not resist the sensibility.
He said that before coming on stage, he was “just worried about wearing a mask. Now I have to worry about wearing a football helmet.” He later added: “If Will Smith is reading this, dear god, please don’t come on my show.”
The year has already seen the loss of many beloved comedians, including Louis Anderson and Bob Saget.
In January, Gottfried tweeted a photo of the three people together, with the text, “This photo is so sad now. RIP Bob Saget and RIP Louis Anderson. Both good friends who will be missed.”
Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, the son of a hardware store owner and a stay-at-home mom. He started doing amateur standup at the age of 15.
He thought he was getting his big break when he landed a spot on “Saturday Night Live” with Eddie Murphy in 1980. But he was given very little to do on the show.
He later said that a low point in a sketch about a funeral was the body sporting. That would only last 12 episodes.
But he’ll find his way while doing bits on MTV and as both a loved and hated guest on talk shows.
He played roles in the films “Beverly Hills Cop II” and “Problem Child” and presented poorly as the host of “USA Up All Night” from 1989 to 1998.
And he played voice roles on several spinoffs of “Rain and Stimpy,” “The Fairly OddParents” and “Aladdin.”
Gottfried’s shirt was not always popular. In 2011, Aflac Inc. fired him as the voice of a duck in their ads over the comic’s tasteless tweet sent about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Less than a month after the September 11, 2001 attacks on Hugh Hefner’s Friars Club Roast, Gottfried joked about planes stopping at skyscrapers, and “Very soon!” started shouting slogans. He responded with a particularly inaccurate version of the comedian’s inside joke “The Aristocrats”, which was taken by many in the audience as a message that he believed it was a part of the comic to remain raw at all costs. There was work.
“To me, funny is funny,” he told the Associated Press last month. “I’d be a little sorry that I do something that doesn’t get laughs, because it’s not funny or the ad doesn’t work. But if it’s laughable, I think I’m a comedian and that’s my job.”
Gottfried is survived by his wife Dara, sister Karen, 14-year-old daughter Lily and 12-year-old son Max.