Washington [US], April 13 (ANI): Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who has one of the most recognisable voices in Hollywood, has passed away. He was 67.
As per Variety, his publicist told the Washington Post that he died of myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy. His family also confirmed the news of his demise on Twitter.
“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness. 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 honour,” his family wrote on Twitter.
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) April 12, 2022
Many Hollywood stars, including comedians Jason Alexander, Dane Cook and more, paid tribute to Gottfried after the shocking news of his death.
Gottfried was known for his crude humour, political incorrectness and shrill voice, which helped give life to several animated characters, such as Iago the parrot in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’, the robotic bird Digit in PBS Kids’ ‘Cyberchase’ and the Aflac duck in commercials for the insurance company.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 28, 1955, and started performing stand-up comedy at just 15.
Gottfried had a short, 12-episode stint on ‘Saturday Night Live’ during Season 6 in 1980, and he reunited with his ‘SNL’ colleague Eddie Murphy on ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’, one of his first major film roles.
Howard Stern frequently invited Gottfried on his radio show in the ’80s, where he impersonated people like Andrew “Dice” Clay, Groucho Marx and Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
By the ’90s, Gottfried landed roles in films like the ‘Problem Child’ movies, ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Looks Who’s Talking Too’, before landing his most recognizable voice role as Iago the parrot in 1992’s ‘Aladdin’. Iago was the annoying but funny comic relief who accompanied the villain Jafar, and Gottfried reprised the role in two direct-to-video sequels, a TV series and the ‘Kingdom Hearts’ video games.
In the 2000s and 2010s, Gottfried became a regular on celebrity roasts and game shows. He appeared in Comedy Central roasts of Bob Saget, Joan Rivers, David Hasselhoff, Donald Trump and Roseanne Barr, plus game shows like ‘Hollywood Squares’ and ‘Pyramid’.
His edgy and crude humour, however, got him into trouble on several occasions. Three weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Gottfried joked that he couldn’t catch a direct flight from New York to California because “they said they have to stop at the Empire State Building first.” The crowd decried “too soon,” but Gottfried was able to win the audience over and quickly made headlines by telling one of the first 9/11 jokes.
At the 1991 Emmy Awards, Gottfried made several masturbation jokes about Paul Reubens’ recent arrest for masturbating in an adult movie theatre, which resulted in Gottfried being blacklisted by producers.
The comedian also lost his job of voicing the Aflac duck after tweeting jokes about the 2011 Tohoku Japanese earthquake disaster, which was the fourth most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan.
Director Neil Berkeley created a documentary, titled ‘Gilbert’, about the comedian’s career and personal life in 2017.
Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara Kravitz, and two children, Lily and Max.