Emmy Award-nominated actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried has passed away at age 67 after suffering from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II, according to Glenn Schwartz, his longtime friend and publicist.
The news was shared by Gottfried’s family on social media, “We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness.”
Gilbert Jeremy Gottfried was born February 28, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time he was 15 years old, he was already doing amateur stand-up in New York City and, after a few years, became known around New York as “the comedian’s comedian.”
In 1980 he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live for 12 episodes in season 6, but really didn’t anchor himself in the show. In 1987, he reunited with friend and fellow SNL alumnus Eddie Murphy for the movie Beverly Hills Cop II.
Beginning in the late 1980s, Gottfried was a favorite guest of Howard Stern’s, often impersonating Andrew “Dice” Clay, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, and a senile Groucho Marx.
He also appeared in The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, as well as voicing the crazed dentist Dr. Bender and his son Wendell in The Fairly OddParents and the voice of Jerry the Belly Button Elf on Ren and Stimpy. Three of his most prominent roles came in 1990, 1991, and 1992, when he was cast as the adoption agent Igor Peabody in Problem Child and Problem Child 2 and the parrot Lago in Aladdin.
Gottfried reprised the role in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the television series and various related media, such as Kingdom Hearts and House of Mouse. Gottfried also voiced Berkeley Beetle in 1994’s Thumbelina.
Gottfried was the host of the Saturday edition of USA Up All Night for its entire run from 1989 to 1998.
Gottfried provided the voice of the duck in the Aflac commercials and Digit in Cyberchase, as well as Mister Mxyzptlk in Superman: The Animated Series. He reprised his role as Mxyzptlk in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Justice League Action, and Lego DC Super-Villains.
He also voiced a nasty wisecracking criminal genius named Nick-Nack in two episodes of Superboy. Gottfried made regular appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Gottfried’s iconic voice has been used in countless projects and he continued his voicework for Cyberchase for over 20 years and 82 episodes.
From 2014 until his passing, Gottfried hosted a podcast, Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, which featured discussions of classic movies and celebrity interviews, most often with veteran actors, comedians, musicians, and comedy writers.
In 2017, Gilbert, a documentary film on Gottfried’s life and career was released.
Friends, fans, and colleagues took to social media to share their thoughts and feelings about his passing:
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What is Myotonic Dystrophy type II?
According to RareDiseases.org, “Myotonic dystrophy type 2, one of the two types of myotonic dystrophy, is inherited muscular dystrophy that affects the muscles and other body systems (e.g., heart, eyes, and pancreas). It is characterized by prolonged muscle tensing (myotonia) as well as muscle weakness, pain, and stiffness.”
It is unknown when Gottfried was diagnosed with this condition.
What is Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Ventricular tachycardia (VT or V-tach) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It occurs when the lower chamber of the heart beats too fast to pump well and the body doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood.”
In layman’s terms, Gottfried suffered from a genetic abnormality that affected his organs, including his heart and that abnormality caused an irregular heartbeat which caused heart failure.
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