Gilbert Gottfried, whose raspy voice made him one of the most recognizable figures in stand-up comedy and landed him voice roles ranging from the Aflac duck to Iago the parrot in Disney’s “Aladdin,” died Tuesday at age 67.
His publicist, Glenn Schwartz, said in a statement that Gottfried died from a heart ailment related to muscular dystrophy.
“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness,” his family wrote in a social media statement. “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.”
No details were released on his medical condition.
While known for his distinctive voice, Gottfried was a fixture in film and television roles, including “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Problem Child,” “Look Who’s Talking Too,” “Wings” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
He lent his unique voice to animated shows including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Crank Yankers,” “Fairly OddParents” and “Duckman.”
Gottfried also spent time on the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Gottfried was known for his brash and usually profane brand of humor, delivered with his trademark squinted eyes and gravelly but loud voice. He was a favorite on celebrity roasts and a regular guest of Howard Stern. His appearance in the comedy documentary “The Aristocrats” is often hailed as the funniest part of a film that featured more than 100 comics discussing and re-telling the same dirty joke.
Gottfried most recently hosted a Sirius/XM podcast titled “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast,” teaming with writer Frank Santopadre to discuss the early days of Hollywood, classic movies and television shows.
“Gilbert’s brand of humor was brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but,” Santopadre said in a statement. “Those who loved and him 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. He’ll be dearly missed by family, friends, fans and comedy lovers the world over. To quote Gilbert himself, `Too soon!”’
Comedians and actors took to social media to laud Gottfried.
“Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily,” actor Jason Alexander wrote on his Twitter page Tuesday. “I did not know him well but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family.”
Actor/director Seth MacFarlane posted a video clip of Gottfried appearing in his film, “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” and wrote, “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh so hard that day on set, I could barely do my job. A wholly original comic, and an equally kind and humble guy behind the scenes. He will be missed.”
Comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien wrote, “I saw Gilbert perform in 1985 and when he entered to applause he said, `Thank you, thank you very much.’ He then continued to say `thank you’ repeatedly for ten full minutes. It was the nerviest, funniest thing I had seen. So sorry to lose this sweet and delightfully funny man.”
Comedian Jon Stewart said that serving as an opening act 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.”
Gottfried is survived by his wife Dara, his 14-year-old daughter Lily, 12-year-old son Max, sisger Karen and nephew Graham.
Funeral services are expected to be private.