Gilbert Gottfried, Standup Comic and Actor, Dies at 67
LOS ANGELES — Gilbert Gottfried, the actor and legendary standup comic known for his raw, scorched voice and crude jokes, has died. He was 67.
Glenn Schwartz, Gottfried’s long-time friend and publicist said that Gottfried passed away from rare genetic muscle diseases. These can cause dangerously abnormal heartbeats.
“In addition to being the most iconic voice in comedy, Gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children. Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor,” his family said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Gottfried was a fiercely independent and intentionally bizarre comedian’s comedian, as likely to clear a room with anti-comedy as he was to kill it with his jokes.
He first came to national attention with frequent appearances on MTV in its early days and with a brief stint in the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s.
Gottfried also did frequent voice work for children’s television and movies, most famously playing the parrot Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin.”
He was particularly fond of doing obscure and dated impressions for as long as he could milk them, including Groucho Marx, Bela Lugosi and Andrew “Dice” Clay.
The Comedy Store, in Hollywood’s early days, would ask him to impersonate Jerry Seinfeld for the last time at night. This was done by the managers to remove any lingering customers.
Gottfried was loved by fellow performers and comedians.
“I am so sad to read about the passing of Gilbert Gottfried,” actor Marlee Matlin said on Twitter. “Funny, politically incorrect but a softie on the inside. We met many times; he even pranked me on a plane, replacing my interpreter.”
“Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander tweeted that “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift.”
Gottfried was born to a Brooklyn mom and hardware store proprietor. He began doing amateur standup at age 15.
“Gilbert’s brand of humor was brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but,” Gottfried’s friend and podcast co-host Frank Santopadre said in a statement. “Those who loved and him were fortunate enough to share his orbit knew a person who was sweet, sensitive, surprisingly shy and filled with a childlike sense of playfulness and wonder.”
Dara Gottfried, his sister Karen and 14-year old daughter Lily, as well as 12-year-old Max, are still with him.
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