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Gilbert Gottfried, comedian and actor, dies at 67

Gottfried's family confirmed in a statement posted on social media that he died after a "long illness."
/ Source: TODAY

Gilbert Gottfried, the legendary comedian and actor, has died. He was 67.

On Tuesday, Gottfried’s family announced his death in a statement posted on his social media accounts

“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness,” the statement read. “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 statement concluded, “Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor.”

In a separate statement sent to TODAY, Gottfried’s longtime friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz confirmed that the comedian died Tuesday from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy Type 2.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, ventricular tachycardia is a type of abnormal heart rhythm, also called arrhythmia. The abnormal heart rhythm prevents the body from receiving enough oxygenated blood. 

Myotonic dystrophy is a disorder that affects muscles and other organs in the body, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Symptoms include the inability to relax muscles at will. Type 2 of the disease rarely occurs early in life and is in general milder than Type 1.

Gottfried was a stand-up comedian for over 50 years. He began performing on stages in New York City when he was just 15 years old.

In 1980, he was cast on “Saturday Night Live” for a short stint. A few years later, he appeared on MTV and was also a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman.” 

The comedian then brought his talents to the big screen and landed roles in “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Problem Child” and “Look Who’s Talking Too.” 

He gained success as a voice actor after his performance in Disney’s “Aladdin” as Iago. After the release of the 1992 animated movie, Gottfried lent his voice to the PBS series “Cyberchase” and other animated series like “Family Guy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” 

Gottfried used his comedic skills to roast many of his fellow comics, such as Bob Saget and Joan Rivers, on Comedy Central roasts. He also joked about other comedians on “The Burn with Jeff Ross,” “Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross and Dave Attell” and “The Howard Stern Show.” 

In 2014, he partnered with writer Frank Santopadre to co-host “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast!”

Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara, 14-year-old daughter, Lily, 12-year-old son, Max, sister Karen and nephew Graham. 

His funeral services will be private. 

After learning about Gottfried’s death, “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander shared his condolences on Twitter.

He wrote, “Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift.” 

Alexander added, “I did not know him well but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family.”

Jon Stewart recalled opening for Gottfried at a couple of shows on Twitter

Stewart said it “was one of the great thrills of my early stand up life. He could leave you gasping for breath…just indescribably unusually hilarious…Damn.”

Mark Hamill praised Gottfried for his unique voice in comedy. 

“Unpredictable, one-of-a-kind, hilarious & irreplaceable!” Hamill wrote. “Thank you for the lifetime of laughs, sir.”

Tom Green posted a picture on Twitter of the last time he saw Gottfried in Miami. 

Green expressed condolences to Gottfried’s family and friends before calling him a “genius comic, artist, and provocateur.”

He ended the tweet with, “Comedy mourns tonight.”