If there's a heavenly choir up there, it's just gained an abrasive new voice—but America has lost one of its greatest comedians. The family of Gilbert Gottfried says the legendary standup has died at age 67 after a long illness, Variety reports. "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 said in a statement of Gottfried's official Twitter account. "Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor."
Relatives say Gottfried died from a heart ailment caused by a form of muscular dystrophy, People reports. Gottfried, known as a "comedian's comedian," grew up in Brooklyn and started doing standup at 15, the AP reports. He appeared on MTV in its early days and was a Saturday Night Live cast member for a dozen episodes in 1980. As his national profile grew in the 1990s, he became known as much for his roles in children's TV and movies, including Aladdin, where he provided the voice of the parrot Iago, as for his extremely raunchy standup act. The last new episode of his podcast, "Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast," appeared on April 4.
Tributes from other comics poured in after Gottfried's death, reports Deadline. "Opening for Gilbert Gottfried at Carolines and Princeton Catch was one of the great thrills of my early stand up life," Jon Stewart tweeted. "He could leave you gasping for breath…just indescribably unusually hilarious…Damn." Jason Alexander tweeted: "Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift." In a statement, podcast co-host Frank Santopadre said that while Gottfried's "brand of humor was brash, shocking, and frequently offensive," the man himself was " sweet, sensitive, surprisingly shy, and filled with a childlike sense of playfulness and wonder." (Read more Gilbert Gottfried stories.)