Gilbert Gottfried, actor and comic, dead at 67

ABC/Heidi Gutman

Gilbert Gottfried, actor and stand-up comedian, has died after a “long illness,” his family confirmed on his social media accounts. He was 67.

“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness,” the statement began. “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.”

A statement provided to ABC News by his longtime friend and publicist, Glenn Schwartz, says Gottfried “passed away at 2:35pm ET on April 12, 2022 from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II.

Known for his gravelly-voiced, near shouting on-stage delivery — as well as for his unflinching ability to “go there,” tackling material that few other comedians would — Gottfried began his stand-up career in the late 1970s in New York City.  He also stole scenes in movies like Beverly Hills Cop 2, and later, he found fame with a younger generation as the voice of Iago the parrot in the Disney 1992 animated film Aladdin.

Gottfried was also known for voicing the duck in the long-running Aflac commercials, until he was fired for making a joke at the expense of the victims of the Japanese tsunami in 2011.

In the statement from Schwartz, Gilbert’s friend and podcast co-host Frank Santopadre said of Gottfried, “Gilbert’s brand of humor was brash, shocking and frequently offensive, but the man behind the jokes was anything but. 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.”

Santopadre added, “He’ll be dearly missed by family, friends, fans and comedy lovers the world over. To quote Gilbert himself, ‘Too soon!’”

Social media was quick to start tributes to the comedian, with one of the first to comment being Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander, who tweeted, “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.

 

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