COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died after a long illness, according to his family. 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 is most well-known as the voice of the parrot Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin” and the voice of the Aflac duck in the early to mid-2000s. Gottfried was fired from the Aflac job in 2011 after making jokes about the Japan earthquake and tsunami that year.
In addition to voice work, Gottfried was a well-respected stand-up comedian, beginning his career in the mid-80s, often appearing on late-night talk shows as well as being a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show.
Before becoming an iconic Disney voice, Gottfried appeared in supporting roles in TV and movies, including “The Cosby Show,” “Beverly Hills Cop 2,” “Night Court,” and the “Problem Child” movies.
Gottfried continued to provide the voice of Iago for movies, TV, and video games for more than 20 years.
Gottfried first appeared on the national stage as a cast member of Saturday Night Live for the sixth season in 1980-81.
In the late 80s, he moved into the world of late-night B-movie hosting with the USA Network’s Up All Night series, on which he appeared until 1998.
In recent years, Gottfried began producing “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast,” the last episode of which was released Monday.
“Gilbert’s brand of humor 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 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.”
Gottfried is survived by his wife and two young children and his sister.
The full message posted by the family on Twitter reads:
We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness. 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.
“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.”