After its Tuesday evening performance, Broadway’s “Aladdin” paid tribute to Gilbert Gottfried. Gottfried’s family shared that the comedian died after battling a long illness earlier in the afternoon.Actor Don Darryl Rivera, who serves as the production’s original and continuing Iago, honored Gottfried with a speech during the show’s curtain call. Gottfried was the first actor associated with the role of Iago, lending his unmistakable voice to the mischievous macaw in the original 1992 animated film “Aladdin.”“We’d like to take a moment to celebrate the life of a comedy legend, a funnyman with an indelible voice, the man who breathed life into Iago for the animated film, Mr. Gilbert Gottfried,” Rivera said. “I, along with five other actors worldwide, have the distinct privilege to bring Iago to life onstage. But I think one of the main reasons this character is who he is is because of what Gilbert brought to the animated film: his comedy and that voice — that voice that the New York Times once said sounded like a busted Cuisinart.Rivera continued by recounting his own meeting with Gottfried during the early days of the Broadway production.The curtain had just come down and out comes Gilbert from the wings. He put his arm around me and we snapped a few photos. But then, I pulled out this,” Rivera said, before producing a VHS copy of the 1992 film. “His eyes lit up like it was the magic lamp itself. He signed it for me and it’s still one of my most treasured possessions. Gilbert was really kind and sweet and surprisingly soft-spoken. He will be deeply missed by his friends and his family.”Gottfried died Tuesday after battling a long illness. He was 67. His publicist informed press that he died of myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy.Watch the full tribute to Gottfried below:Comedian Gilbert Gottfried shocked by Bob Saget’s deathGottfried had been scheduled to perform at the Palm Beach Kennel Club’s Paddock Restaurant on May 13.The Brooklyn-born stand-up comedian had been a fixture of the New York comedy club scene in the 1970s, but his chance to catapult into the mainstream came in 1980, when he joined the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for its sixth season. Instead, Gottfried’s impressions (of film director Roman Polanski and former U.S. Rep. David A Stockman, R-Mich.) and lone recurring character (Leo Waxman on the talk show sketch, “What’s It All About?”) never took off, and he was fired after just one season.
In addition to his stand-up acts, Gottfried had several bit parts in popular movies like “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Problem Child” and its sequel. He also provided the voice of Iago the wise-cracking parrot in Disney’s 1992 animated film “Aladdin.”Gottfried also served as the host of “USA Up All Night,” which featured mostly low-budget movies bookended by Gottfried’s comedy skits and sardonic comments. The show aired on the USA Network from 1989 to 1998.His humor had been the subject of controversy throughout the years, notably upsetting a national television audience at the 1991 Primetime Emmy Awards with a barrage of masturbation jokes aimed at Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-Wee Herman), who had been arrested a month earlier on an indecent exposure charge at an adult movie theater in Florida. Fox, which televised that year’s Emmy Awards, censored the broadcast for West Coast audiences and issued a statement calling Gottfried’s jokes “irresponsible and insulting.”
Gottfried also knew how to turn national tragedies into punchlines, becoming one of the first comedians to joke about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, just three weeks removed from the deadliest act of terrorism in human history.During the roast of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner at the New York Friars Club in 2001, Gottfried’s joke was met with boos and ridicule from the audience. Gottfried had to win them back with a raunchy rendition of the Aristocrats joke.Gottfried was the original voice of the Aflac duck in commercials for the Columbus, Georgia-based insurance company, but a series of tweets in which he joked about the devastating 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that left more than 2,400 people dead resulted in his ouster after 11 years. He later issued a public apology.Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died at 67. A post on his verified Twitter feed says he died following a long illness.Gottfried died from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II, a disorder that affects the heart, according to a statement by his publicist and longtime friend Glenn Schwartz to the Associated Press.
There was always a glint in his eye when Gottfried was just about to tell an edgy joke, for example this one from his Just for Laughs set in 2015: “Let me tell you when I was a little boy if my father bought me a baseball I would’ve made out with him … and I don’t want to tell you what I would’ve done for a G.I Joe.Whether it was natural disasters or terrorist attacks, the phrase “too soon” was never a part of his vocabulary as Gottfried told NPR in 2011There’s that old saying, tragedy plus time equals comedy. And I always say like, well, why wait?”
Gottfired was also an actor, including lending his unique voice to Disney’s Aladdin.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died, his family said. He was 67.
“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness,” his family wrote in a statement shared to his Twitter account.
Gottfried died at 2:35 p.m. ET Tuesday from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime friend and publicist.
Gottfried, who performed stand-up comedy for over 50 years, became known as “the comedian’s comedian” “because his live performances put aside political correctness while he delivers jokes that know no boundaries,” his representative said in a statement.
His comedic career led to roles in “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Problem Child,” “Look Who’s Talking II,” “The Aristocrats” and other films. He was also the voice of the wisecracking parrot Iago in Disney’s iconic animated film “Aladdin.”
More recently, in 2017, he was the subject of the documentary “Gilbert,” about his life. He also co-hosted a podcast, “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast!” on which he and Frank Santopadre interviewed Hollywood icons and legends.
His family described him as “the most iconic voice in comedy,” as well as a “wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children.”
“Although today is a sad day for us all, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor,” his family wrote.
Actor Jason Alexander was among those who shared his condolences Tuesday.
“Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift,” he wrote on Twitter. “I did not know him well but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family. #ripGilbertGottfried”
Santopadre said Gottfried’s humor was “brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but.”
“Those who loved him and who 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,” Santopadre said in a statement provided by Gottfried’s publicist. “He’ll be dearly missed by family, friends, fans and comedylovers the world over. To quote Gilbert himself, ‘Too soon!'”
Other celebrities also mourned Gottfried on social media, sharing fond memories and relating the impact he had on their lives.
Gilbert Gottfried, the comedian who gave voice to the parrot in the hit Disney animated feature “Aladdin” and the duck in commercials for Aflac insurance — and whose manic, loudmouthed and highly original stand-up routines mixed old-fashioned borscht-belt shtick with cringeworthy vulgarity — died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 67.
His friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz said in a statement that the cause was muscular dystrophy.
Mr. Gottfried’s voice-over work — notably his portrayal of the excitable parrot Iago in “Aladdin” (1992) and its sequels and spinoffs — earned him a legion of fans. Many of them were too young to have seen, or even known about, the Gilbert Gottfried who was captured telling a graphically filthy joke in the 2005 documentary “The Aristocrats” — telling it in the fall of 2001 to a crowd at a roast that had grown suddenly hostile after he tried to make light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Gottfried began doing stand-up around New York as a teenager, and soon developed a reputation among his fellow comics as a comedian’s comedian who mixed a craftsman’s attention to timing with a penchant for inventive if sometimes intentionally obscure humor.
Nevertheless, he earned enough renown to be invited to join the first “Saturday Night Live” cast assembled after the producer Lorne Michaels and all the previous cast members and writers had left, in the fall of 1980. It was a notorious disaster. He was on the show for just 13 episodes before the replacement producer, Jean Doumanian, was let go, along with almost all of the new cast.(Mr. Michaels did not return until 1985.)
But Mr. Gottfried’s newfound visibility soon brought him more work, including appearances on MTV, guest spots on sitcoms like “The Cosby Show” and small but noteworthy roles in “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Problem Child,” “Look Who’s Talking II” and other movies.
He didn’t leave stand-up, and as the 1980s progressed he perfected his stage persona as a dyspeptic, unlikable comedian willing to shock, awe and not look back — a stance that often got him in trouble.
He was widely criticized after joking about masturbation at the 1991 Emmy Awards. He was fired as the voice of the Aflac duck in 2011 after making insensitive jokes on Twitter about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that year. (Some of his even more ribald humor is collected on a 2005 DVD, “Dirty Jokes.”)
Still, Mr. Gottfried maintained an ardent following, especially among comedy connoisseurs who respected his timing as well as his other considerable talents. Although he was best known for his loud, annoying voice, he was also an excellent impressionist, whose best-known voices included Jerry Seinfeld, Andrew Dice Clay and Groucho Marx as an old man.
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He was a regular on late-night talk shows and radio shows, notably Howard Stern’s, a venue where he could unwind his often rambling stories and veer a bit further into the blue comedy he specialized in. It was that same unchecked humor that made him a regular on Comedy Central’s series of roasts, in which celebrities take turns jabbing at the guest of “honor.”
Mr. Gottfried was, more than many comedians, a creature of late-night TV, reveling in aliens, lounge lizards and other weird corners of American pop culture — as he demonstrated when he hosted “Up All Night,” a weekly presentation of B- and C-grade horror and action movies that ran on the USA Network from 1989 to 1998.
He himself appeared in several movies of roughly the same quality. In “Highway to Hell,” a 1991 horror comedy, he played Hitler. In the fourth, fifth and sixth installments of “Sharknado,” about an extreme weather event that rains man-eating fish from the sky, he played a reporter.
In more recent years, Mr. Gottfried co-hosted a popular podcast, “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast,” with Frank Santopadre, focusing on some of the more obscure corners of showbiz and featuring interviews with movie and TV actors and other comedians. And he continued to appear in whatever pop-culture ephemera came his way, including “Celebrity Apprentice” and, with his wife, Dara, “Celebrity Wife Swap.”
In 2011 Mr. Gottfried published a well-received memoir, “Rubber Balls and Liquor,” in which he copped to his penchant for crude humor but refused to apologize.
“I don’t always mean to offend,” he wrote. “I only sometimes mean to offend.”
Gilbert Gottfried was born on Feb. 28, 1955, in Brooklyn. His family lived above a hardware store run by his father, Max, and Max’s brother Seymour. (In his book, he claimed it was called “Gilbert’s Father’s Hardware Store.”) His mother, Lillian (Zimmerman) Gottfried, was a homemaker.