Gilbert Gottfried, Jewish Comedian and Actor With ‘Iconic Voice,’ Dies at 67
Jewish American comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried has died after battling a “long illness,” his family announced Tuesday on his official Twitter page. He was 67.
His publicist said he died of recurrent ventricular tachycardia caused by myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy.
“In addition to being the most iconic voice in comedy, Gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children,” Gottfried’s family said in a statement. “Although today is a sad day for us all, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor.”
Gottfried gave life to a number of memorable characters, including the parrot Iago in the “Aladdin” franchise and the Aflac duck in the commercials for the insurance company. His other voice roles included Kraang Subprime in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the robotic bird Digit in PBS Kids’ “Cyberchase,” Mr. Mxyzptlk in “Superman: The Animated Series,” Dr. Bender and his son Wendell in “The Fairly OddParents,” as well as characters in “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” “Duckman,” and “Disney’s House of Mouse,” among many others.
Tributes to Gottfried from Hollywood actors and comedians began pouring in on Twitter after his death was announced, with Dane Cook writing, “Gilbert Gottfried was never not funny. He was a lovely guy, always friendly and made many people happy.”
Mel Brooks said, “So sorry to hear about Gilbert Gottfried’s passing. Truly a funny, funny guy. So unique. He will be sorely missed.” Jon Stewart noted that Gottfried had the ability to “leave you gasping for breath” and called him “just indescribably unusually hilarious.”
Jason Alexander said Gottfried “made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily.” He added, “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.”
“Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh so hard that day on set, I could barely do my job,” said Seth MacFarlane. “A wholly original comic, and an equally kind and humble guy behind the scenes. He will be missed.”
Gottfried was born on Feb. 28, 1955, to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY. He started performing stand-up comedy at age 15 and had a 12-episode appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in season 6.
In 1980, he and his “SNL” co-star Eddie Murphy starred together in “Beverly Hills Cop II.” Gottfried later starred in the “Problem Child” movies, “Highway to Hell” and “Look Who’s Talking Too.” A documentary titled “Gilbert,” about his career and personal life, was released in 2017.