Gilbert Gottfried, comedian and actor, dies aged 67
The standup comic, also known for voicing Iago in Disney’s animated Aladdin, has died after a long illness
Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried has died at the age of 67.
His family announced his death after a long illness via his Twitter page. Gottfried was known for his standup comedy and for roles in films including Aladdin and Problem Child.
“In addition to being the most iconic voice in comedy, Gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children,” the statement read. “Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honour.”
A representative for the late star told TMZ that he died of a heart abnormality called ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type 2.
Gottfried was discovered as a young standup and starred in one season of Saturday Night Live in 1980. This led to film roles, including Beverly Hills Cop II and the Problem Child series.
His unmistakeable voice led to a great deal of voice work, most notably playing the parrot Iago in Aladdin, which he later referred to as his “all-time favourite job”. He was also known for the kids’ show Cyberchase and for voicing the duck in the Aflac commercials.
His screen roles also included Ren and Stimpy, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dr Dolittle, A Million Ways to Die in the West and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
He was known for pushing boundaries, making risky jokes, including a controversial 9/11 joke at the roast of Hugh Hefner. In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, he said: “The other thing that always got me is when they say, ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy,’ or when they’ll yell, ‘Too soon!’ I always felt like, ‘OK, please show me where the office is where there’s a guy behind a desk who has it marked off in a calendar when something goes from bad taste to OK.’”
He also recently weighed in on the Chris Rock/Will Smith Oscars story, tweeting a picture of himself with Rock, writing: “Which is the worst crime? Chris Rock being physically assaulted or Chris Rock telling a joke?”
“I can say any bad thing about another person, but if they start making fun of the shirt I’m wearing, I go, ‘Oh come on, that’s just – it’s one thing to joke, but now you’re taking it to a really cruel area,’ he said, laughing, in a 2017 interview. “So I’m as hypocritical as anybody.”
Seinfeld star Jason Alexander has paid tribute on Twitter writing: “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift. I did not know him well but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family.”
“Gilbert Gottfried was never not funny,” comedian Dane Cook tweeted. “He was a lovely guy, always friendly & made many people happy.”
“I shall miss you, my friend, my sometimes foil, my always pain in my side, usually from the belly laughs,” actor George Takei tweeted. “The heavens are a great deal louder with you out there now, I’m sure. Keep ‘em shaking their heads and smiling, Gilbert.”
Jon Stewart also tweeted: “He could leave you gasping for breath … just indescribably unusually hilarious.”
Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara Kravitz, and two children.