Gilbert Gottfried, the actor and stand-up comic known for his raw, scorched voice and crude jokes, has died aged 67.
Gottfried died from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II, a disorder that affects the heart, his publicist and longtime friend Glenn Schwartz said in a 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 honour,” his family said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Gottfried 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 also did frequent voice work for children’s television and films, most famously playing the parrot Iago in Disney’s Aladdin.
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 Jerry Seinfeld at the end of the night to get rid of lingering patrons.
Gottfried was especially beloved by his fellow comedians and performers.
“I am so sad to read about the passing of Gilbert Gottfried,” actor Marlee Matlin said on Twitter.
“Funny, politically incorrect but a softie on the inside. We met many times; he even pranked me on a plane, replacing my interpreter.”
Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander tweeted that “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift”.
Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, the son of a hardware store owner and a stay-at-home mother.
He began doing amateur stand-up at the age of 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.
He added that those who “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”.
Gottfried is survived by his wife Dara, sister Karen, 14-year-old daughter Lily and 12-year-old son Max.