Comedian Gilbert Gottfried Dies at 67 After Long Illness: 'An Unexpectedly Gentle Guy'

"Although today is a sad day for us all, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor," his family urged.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
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Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried died Tuesday, his family announced in a Twitter post."We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness," the post read in part. Gottfried was 67. NBC News reports that he died of recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II.

"Although today is a sad day for us all, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor," his family tweeted.

In addition to performing stand-up comedy since his teen years, Gottfried appeared in numerous movies, including Aladdin, where he voiced the parrot, Iago. He also appeared in Problem Child, Beverly Hills Cop II, Look Who's Talking II, and had a one-season stint on Saturday Night Live. His raspy, iconic voice made him a natural choice to play the role of the Aflac duck for Aflac insurance in commercials, but he was fired from that job in 2011 due to jokes he made about a severe earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He also hosted Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, a weekly podcast focused on Hollywood interviews and history.

Gottfried is survived by his wife, Dara, and two children, Max, 12, and Lily, 14.

Friends and fans mourned Gottfried online.

"Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh at times when laughter did not come easily. What a gift," Seinfeld star Jason Alexander wrote. "I did not know him well but I loved what he shared with me. My best wishes and sympathy to his family."

New York Times writer Dave Itzkoff wrote, "Years ago, Gilbert Gottfried let me visit him at home in NYC. In person he was an unexpectedly gentle guy who loved old showbiz and movie monsters -- almost too shy to sit at a table and listen to his wife tell me the story of how they first met."

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