Legendary comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died after quietly battling a long illness, according to a statement from his family.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Gottfried’s publicist said he died due to complications from muscular dystrophy.
Gottfried became a household name thanks to his politically incorrect humor, acting and above all the squawking voice he used on stage.
“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,” his family wrote on Twitter.
Many people in Hollywood, including comedians Jason Alexander, Dane Cook and more, paid tribute to Gottfried after the shocking news of his death. “Gilbert Gottfried was never not funny,” wrote Cook. “He was a lovely guy, always friendly and made many people happy.”
He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 28, 1955, and started performing stand-up comedy at just 15. Gottfried had a short, 12-episode stint on “Saturday Night Live” during Season 6 in 1980, and he reunited with his “SNL” colleague Eddie Murphy on “Beverly Hills Cop II,” one of his first major film roles. Howard Stern frequently invited Gottfried on his radio show in the ’80s, where he impersonated people like Andrew “Dice” Clay, Groucho Marx and Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
By the ’90s, Gottfried landed roles in films like “Problem Child” movies, “Highway to Hell” and “Looks Who’s Talking Too,” before landing his most recognizable voice role as Iago the parrot in 1992’s “Aladdin.” Iago was the annoying but funny comic relief who accompanied the villain Jafar, and Gottfried reprised the role in two direct-to-video sequels and a TV series.