Gilbert Gottfried, the actor and legendary standup comic known for his raw, scorched voice and crude jokes, has died at 67.
Publicist and longtime friend Glenn Schwartz said in a statement that Gottfried died from a rare genetic muscle disease that can trigger a dangerously abnormal heartbeat caused by myotonic dystrophy type II, a type of muscular dystrophy.
The news was shared on Gottfried’s social media through a statement from his family. The statement 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.”
The family’s statement concludes, “Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor.”
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) April 12, 2022
According to CBS News:
There are two types of myotonic dystrophy, a disease that affects the muscles and other body systems, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This disease is the most common form of muscular dystrophy that begins in adulthood.
Myotonic dystrophy type II, which Gottfried reportedly had, is inherited, NIH explains. It causes muscle weakness, pain and stiffness, and the symptoms usually develop during a person’s 20s or 30s.
Myotonic dystrophy type II affects the muscles as well as organs like the heart, eyes and pancreas, and causes prolonged muscle tensing known as myotonia. The severity of the condition varies for different people, and even among family members.
Myotonic dystrophy is also known to cause irregular electrical control of the heartbeat.
Ventricular tachycardia is a condition where the heart beats faster — usually 100 or more beats per minute, whereas the average is 60 or 100 beats per minute. It is caused by irregular electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Ventricular tachycardia can be caused by many things, including having had a prior heart attack, congenital heart diseases, or even medication reactions.
Gottfried had two children with his wife Dara Kravitz; they had a 14-year-old daughter Lily and his 12-year-old son Max.
Gottfried began his stand-up career in New York City in the late 1970s and is known for his gravelly-voiced, near-shouting on-stage delivery, as well as his unflinching ability to “get there,” handling topics that few other comics would. He made an appearance in a public service announcement in which he promoted a mass COVID vaccination program for Illinois people. Gottfried claimed in the propaganda video that obtaining a COVID shot is a “matter of life or death!” on May 4, 2021.
Gottfried was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” for season 6 and also starred in “Beverly Hills Cop II” in 1987. He was also the voice of the Aflac duck in ads for the insurance business until 2011.
My favorite. He’s not in it very long but it get me every time pic.twitter.com/dAa9kArkJv
— Lyin’ Brian (@JustBrian___) April 12, 2022
Social media was quick to start tributes to the comedian, including “Seinfeld” star 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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