At 71 years old, legendary funnyman and comic genius George Carlin has died. He succumbed to heart failure this Sunday. Mel Watkins of The New York Times reports:
The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, went into the hospital on Sunday afternoon after complaining of heart trouble. The comedian had worked last weekend at The Orleans in Las Vegas.George Carlin was a hero of mine. Thankfully I had the privilege of seeing him perform a few years ago. Heart failure, makes me wonder if it was preventable. Goodbye George.
Recently, Mr. Carlin was named the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He was to receive the award at the Kennedy Center in November. “In his lengthy career as a comedian, writer, and actor, George Carlin has not only made us laugh, but he makes us think,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Kennedy Center chairman. “His influence on the next generation of comics has been far-reaching.”
Mr. Carlin began his standup comedy act in the late 1950s and made his first television solo guest appearance on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1965. At that time, he was primarily known for his clever wordplay and reminiscences of his Irish working-class upbringing in New York.
But from the outset there were indications of an anti-establishment edge to his comedy. Initially, it surfaced in the witty patter of a host of offbeat characters like the wacky sportscaster Biff Barf and the hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet. “The weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high. Tonight’s forecast . . . dark, continued mostly dark tonight turning to widely scattered light in the morning.”