The comedian reportedly died Tuesday in Manhattan due to complications from myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy.
Gilbert Gottfried, a comedian and actor with a distinctly memorable voice, has died after battling a long illness, his family announced Tuesday. He was 67-years-old at the time of his death. "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 honor," his family wrote in a post on Twitter.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Gottfried's friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz revealed that the comedian died Tuesday in Manhattan due to complications from myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy. Known for his crude humor, political incorrectness and shrill voice, Gottfried gave life to a number of memorable animated characters, including 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. According to Variety, he was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 28, 1955, and started performing stand-up comedy at just 15 years of age.
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. #ripGilbertGottfried— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) April 12, 2022
Gottfried had a short, 12-episode stint on "Saturday Night Live" in 1980 during the show's sixth season, and he later reunited with his "SNL" colleague Eddie Murphy on "Beverly Hills Cop II," which was one of his first major film roles. He was frequently invited to Howard Stern's radio show in the '80s, where he impersonated people like Andrew "Dice" Clay, Groucho Marx and Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Gottfried went on to star in films like the "Problem Child" movies, "Highway to Hell," "Looks Who's Talking Too" and "Aladdin." His other major voice roles featured in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Superman: The Animated Series," "The Fairly OddParents," "SpongeBob Squarepants," "The Ren & Stimpy Show," "Duckman," "Disney's House of Mouse" and countless more.
On the morning I’m releasing my latest film, I discover my friend and colleague, Gilbert Gottfried has passed. I am so so sad. Gilbert graciously lent his voice to the “Science Friction” project and he will be dearly missed but never forgotten. This is his hilarious contribution. pic.twitter.com/llM7gS6Mvn— Emery Emery (@emeryemeryii) April 12, 2022
Gottfried's edgy and crude style in stand-up comedy 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." Although the crowd gasped and decried it was "too soon" to joke about the tragedy, Gottfried managed to win them over and quickly made headlines by telling one of the first 9/11 jokes. He recalled the joke in a 2012 opinion piece for CNN, in which he also defended tweets he posted about the 2011 Tohoku Japanese earthquake disaster, which was the fourth most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan.
rest in peace to Gilbert Gottfried who has probably the best sequence in game show history on Hollywood Squares. if you're not an old hag like me who remembers the rules, both contestants needed his square to secure the 5-square win, but he decided to troll both of them pic.twitter.com/Egzyzygudd— manny (@mannyfidel) April 12, 2022
"I have always felt comedy and tragedy are roommates," Gottfried wrote, although the tweets led to him losing his job of voicing the Aflac duck. In 2017, Director Neil Berkeley created a documentary, titled "Gilbert," about the comedian's career and personal life. In his review for Variety, film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote: "Gottfried displays no regrets; he has the courage of his abrasive conviction. The most offensive joke we see him tell is one in which he compares his own daughter to Mackenzie Phillips — but if the joke, on some level, is indefensible, it's really one designed to mock his own insecurities. He is full of fear, but fearless. He's just kidding, but totally means it. He's a man who puts on his entire stand-up personality like a moth-balled old suit, but once he's in character he is never more himself. You may or may not walk away from 'Gilbert' a Gilbert Gottfried fan, but either way the movie makes you glad he exists." Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara Kravitz, and two children, Lily and Max.