Gottfried's family said he died after a long illness
Gilbert Gottfried, the actor and legendary standup comic known for his raw, scorched voice and crude jokes, has died. He was 67.
Gottfried died from a rare genetic muscle disease that can trigger a dangerously abnormal heartbeat, his publicist and longtime friend, Glenn Schwartz, said in a statement.
Gottfried's family confirmed his death "after a long illness" in a statement shared on social media.
"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."
Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara, sister, Karen, 14-year-old daughter, Lily, and 12-year-old son, Max.
He last performed in Canada two weeks prior to the news of his death, with three shows in Toronto on March 26 and 27.
He was a fiercely independent and intentionally bizarre comedian's comedian, as likely to clear a room with anti-comedy as he was to kill with his jokes.
Gottfried first came to national attention with frequent appearances on MTV in its early days and with a brief stint in the cast of Saturday Night Live in the 1980s.
He also did frequent voice work for children's television and movies, most famously playing the parrot Iago in Disney's Aladdin.
Gilbert Gottfried speaks with CBC News during his 2015 tour
Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried sat down with CBC's Sandra Abma in 2015 ahead of four shows in Canada.2:07
He was particularly fond of doing obscure and dated impressions for as long as he could milk them, including Groucho Marx, Bela Lugosi and Andrew "Dice" Clay.
In his early days at the club the Comedy Store in Hollywood, the managers would have him do his impression of then-little-known comedian Jerry Seinfeld at the end of the night to get rid of lingering patrons.
Tributes to a gifted comedian
Gottfried was especially beloved by his fellow comedians and performers.
Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander tweeted that "Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift."
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. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ripGilbertGottfried?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ripGilbertGottfried</a>
Others from the entertainment industry also shared tributes, including actor Mark Hamill, who posted on Twitter: "He was a unique voice in comedy on so many levels. Unpredictable, one-of-a-kind, hilarious & irreplaceable! Thank you for the lifetime of laughs, sir."
Comedian Jon Stewart wrote on Twitter that opening for Gottfried "was one of the great thrills of my early stand up life. He could leave you gasping for breath … just indescribably unusually hilarious … Damn."
Canadian comedian Tom Green shared a photo of himself with Gottfried, describing the late comedian as a "genius comic, artist and provocateur," before adding: "Comedy mourns tonight."
Sad to hear of the passing of the groundbreaking and legendary Gilbert Gottfried. Here was the last time I saw you in Miami. My condolences to the family and friends of this genius comic, artist, and provocateur. Comedy mourns tonight. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/comedy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#comedy</a> 🙏 🙏 🙏 <a href="https://t.co/F3oIp81lmy">pic.twitter.com/F3oIp81lmy</a>
Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, the son of a hardware store owner and a stay-at-home mom. He began doing amateur standup at age 15.
"Gilbert's brand of humour was brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but," Gottfried's friend and podcast co-host, Frank Santopadre, said in a statement.
"Those who loved him and 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."
The year has already seen the loss of several beloved comedians, including Louie Anderson and Bob Saget.
In January, Gottfried tweeted a picture of the three men together, with the text, "This photo is very sad now. RIP Bob Saget and RIP Louie Anderson. Both good friends that will be missed."
This photo is very sad now. RIP Bob Saget and RIP Louie Anderson. Both good friends that will be missed. <a href="https://t.co/DLJ8Ntt7LN">pic.twitter.com/DLJ8Ntt7LN</a>
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