Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

The foul-mouthed comedian who voiced Iago in ‘Aladdin’ and the Aflac duck died of a heart problem

One of the most distinct voices in Hollywood, actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried, has passed away after a lengthy battle with a heart condition, his family said on Tuesday. Best known as the voice of the Aflac duck and the villain-sidekick Iago in Disney’s animated “Aladdin” films, Gottfried was 67.

“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.

His representative Glenn Schwartz later told reporters that Gottfried died from ventricular tachycardia, a heart abnormality caused by type II myotonic dystrophy, a hereditary muscle-wasting disease.

Gottfried started out as a stand-up comedian in New York City, moving to TV in the 1970s with a spot on the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” He carved out a niche for himself with supporting roles in the TV comedy “The Cosby Show” and in the comedy film “Beverly Hills Cop II” in the 1980s. The screechy, obnoxious voice he affected served him well in Disney’s animated 1992 hit “Aladdin,” in which he voiced Iago, the parrot sidekick of the villain Jaffar.

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A Rolling Stone writer described Gottfried in 2005 as “one of America’s filthiest stand-ups and one of the most successful voice-over artists in children’s entertainment.”

His penchant for vulgar and off-color jokes also got him in trouble. He was blacklisted from the Emmy awards in 1991 after “an endless series of masturbation jokes,” and fired from voicing the Aflac duck mascot in 2011, for joking about the Japanese earthquake which triggered the tsunami that caused the Fukushima meltdown.

Just a few weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he made a joke about them at a roast of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner – and had to recover by telling a particularly spicy version of the old “The Aristocrats” routine.

On January 21, as news came that fellow comedian Louie Anderson had died of blood cancer, Gottfried tweeted out a photo with Anderson and another colleague, Bob Saget – who had died less than two weeks prior.

“This photo is very sad now. RIP Bob Saget and RIP Louie Anderson. Both good friends that will be missed,” Gottfried wrote. He would join them less than three months later.