Gilbert Jeremy Gottfried (February 28, 1955 – April 12, 2022) was an American comedian and actor who was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1955. When he performed as a comedian, he was known for using an exaggerated shrill voice and emphasizing crude humor. His many roles in film and television include voicing the parrot Iago in the Aladdin animated films and series, Digit LeBoid in Cyberchase, Kraang Subprime in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Aflac Duck.
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He has also appeared in a number of commercials. In 1990, he made an appearance in the critically panned but commercially successful film Problem Child. Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast (2014–2022) was a podcast hosted by Gottfried that featured discussions of classic films and celebrity interviews, with the majority of the guests being veteran actors, comedians, musicians, and comedy writers. Gilbert (2017) was a documentary that looked into his life and career.
Comedy World Losses Gilbert Gottfried
A long illness took its toll on comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried, according to his family, who announced his death Tuesday. He had reached the age of 67. ‘Aladdin’ star Gilbert Gottfried, who was known for his shrill voice and roles in films such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and commercials such as “Aflac Duck,” died Tuesday afternoon of myotonic dystrophy type 2, according to his longtime friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz, who released a statement on his behalf.
The comedian’s family announced his death on Twitter on Tuesday, according to a post on the comedian’s account.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried, who passed away after a long illness,” his family said in a statement. “Along with being the most recognizable voice in comedy, Gilbert was also an excellent husband, brother, friend, and father to his two young children, among many other things. Despite the fact that today is a sad day for all of us, please continue to laugh as loud as you possibly can in Gilbert’s honor.”
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) April 12, 2022
Gilbert Gottfried Early Life
Gilbert Jeremy Gottfried was born on February 28, 1955, in the Coney Island section of the Brooklyn borough of New York City, the son of Lillian Zimmerman, a homemaker, and Max Gottfried, a hardware store owner. His father and grandfather were in charge of the store, which was located above the family’s residence.
He was raised in a Jewish family, but he later revealed that he ate pork as a result of his unusual upbringing: “I ate pork.” We weren’t particularly aware of the holidays or anything like that, but we were conscious of our Jewish heritage. It’s almost as if I knew, even though I had never been bar mitzvahed and my family didn’t observe the holidays, that if the Nazis returned, I’d be in the same train coach as the rest of the passengers. He was the younger brother of Arlene Gottfried (1950–2017), a photographer who died in 2017.
Having begun to perform stand-up comedy in New York City at the age of 15, Gottfried has earned the title of “comedian’s comedian” in the city and beyond. During the 1980 retooling of Saturday Night Live with a new cast and new comedians, the producers took notice of Gottfried and hired him as a cast member for season 6. He rarely (if ever) spoke in his trademark screeching obnoxious voice, and he never squinted during his SNL sketches, which was a significant departure from his later characterization.
During his 12-episode run, he received very little airtime and was only occasionally featured in sketches. Gottfried recalled that one of his lowest points was being forced to play a corpse in a sketch about a sports organist who is hired to play inappropriate music at a funeral service. However, he did have one recurring character (Leo Waxman, husband to Denny Dillon’s Pinky Waxman on the recurring talk show sketch “What’s It All About?”) and two celebrity impersonations: David A. Stockman and controversial film director Roman Polanski, both of whom appeared on the show.
World Losses a Gems
This isn’t the first tragedy to strike the world of comedy in recent months: “Full House” star Bob Saget and “Baskets” comedian Louie Anderson both passed away earlier this year, among other notable figures. An affectionate photo of the trio was included in a January tweet from the Emmy-nominated actor, who paid tribute to his comedic companions.
Dara Gottfried and her sister Karen survive Gottfried, as well as their 14-year-old daughter Lily and 12-year-old son Max.