Comedian George Carlin dies at 71

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23-06-2008 02:02:35

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. - George Carlin, the dean of counterculture comedians whose biting insights on life and language were immortalized in his “Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV” routine, died of heart failure Sunday. He was 71.

Carlin went into a Santa Monica hospital Sunday afternoon complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist, Jeff Abraham.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. It was announced Tuesday that Carlin was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Carlin constantly pushed the envelop with his jokes, particularly with the “Seven Words” a routine called “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV.”

When Carlin uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested for disturbing the peace. And when they were played on a New York radio station, they resulted in a Supreme Court ruling in 1978 upholding the government’s authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.

“So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I’m perversely kind of proud of,” he told The Associated Press earlier this year.

He produced 23 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, a couple of TV shows and appeared in several movies. Carlin hosted the first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” and noted on his Web site that he was “loaded on cocaine all week long.”

When asked about the fallout from the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with Janet Jackson’s breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction,” Carlin told the AP, “What are we, surprised?”

“There’s an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body,” he said. “It’s reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have.”

Carlin was born May 12, 1937 and grew up in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, raised by a single mother. After dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, he joined the Air Force in 1954. He received three court-martials and numerous disciplinary punishments, according to his official Web site.

While in the Air Force he started working as an off-base disc jockey at a radio station in Shreveport, La., and after receiving a general discharge in 1957, took an announcing job at WEZE in Boston.

“Fired after three months for driving mobile news van to New York to buy pot,” his Web site says.

From there he went on to a job on the night shift as a deejay at a radio station in Forth Worth, Texas. Carlin also worked variety of temporary jobs including a carnival organist and a marketing director for a peanut brittle.

In 1960, he left with a Texas radio buddy, Jack Burns, for Hollywood to pursue a nightclub career as comedy team Burns & Carlin. He left with $300, but his first break came just months later when the duo appeared on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar. Carlin said he hoped to emulate his childhood hero, Danny Kaye, the kindly, rubber-faced comedian who ruled over the decade that Carlin grew up in — the 1950s — with a clever but gentle humor reflective of its times.

Only problem was, it didn’t work for him.

“I was doing superficial comedy entertaining people who didn’t really care Businessmen, people in nightclubs, conservative people. And I had been doing that for the better part of 10 years when it finally dawned on me that I was in the wrong place doing the wrong things for the wrong people,” Carlin reflected recently as he prepared for his 14th HBO special, “It’s Bad For Ya.”


23-06-2008 06:15:14

Thats a bummer R.I.P


23-06-2008 08:46:48

Well, there goes comedy! (


23-06-2008 09:55:45

George Carlin will be greatly missed...

But, his truth in humor will live on...


23-06-2008 12:33:05

From the man himself...


RIP George.


23-06-2008 12:41:44



23-06-2008 13:13:43

Awwwwww....but but but...liCryli


23-06-2008 19:50:48

Damn! That sucks. He was hilarious.


24-06-2008 10:19:24

Definitely a sad day.
The YouTube is great but...
Has anyone else noticed that there hasn't been much on primetime tv. I know after Tim Russert died that's all I saw every time on turned it on. Very disappointing!


24-06-2008 13:52:18

I don't think the media liked him very much. he was a rude, crude, dirty old man who blew dudes in Jay and Silent Bob strike back.

A.K.A. super funny D


25-06-2008 15:31:03

ONe funny man, Saw him live a few years ago, never gets old, unfortunately he did. R.I.P.


26-06-2008 06:15:41

i watched larry king on monday and jerry seinfeld, roseanne barr, bill maher, and lewis black were on. if i had to guess, it will be replayed over the weekend.

there were a lot of tributes and great stories about carlin, i liked this one by matthew berry over at espn

[quotefe15c76178]After I graduated from college, I moved immediately to Los Angeles to begin a career in show business … and promptly got a job at a toy store. I did a few quickie retail jobs before getting my first "real" job as the stage PA (production assistant) for the first season of "The George Carlin Show," a sitcom George did on Fox.

I was a gofer, basically, answering the phone for Stage 17 on the Warner Brothers lot, getting lunch for George and the cast (George liked his turkey breast to be real, not processed and thinly sliced), distributing scripts to houses all around L.A. every night and basically doing whatever they needed, whenever they needed it.

I mostly hated the job. The only positive thing about it was working with George. He was as kind and gentle a guy as you'd ever want to meet. The exact opposite of his on-stage persona, he was always happy, not angry. He was the first guy on the set every morning and the last guy to leave.

That first year, one of my best friends and his girlfriend (now his wife) came out to visit me in Los Angeles. Now, I'm a grunt, right? As low as you can get. But, of course, I wanted to show off my "big Hollywood career" to my friend. So I bring them to the show, and afterward I bring them down to the stage. I had mentioned to George earlier in the day that if there was anything he needed after the show, I wanted to take care of it early so I could show my friends around after.

So it's after the show now, and I'm showing my friends the sets and what a grip does and all that when George comes up to me. "Matthew, are these your friends from back home?" I say yes and introduce them. And George gives them the big sell. "We couldn't do the show without Matthew. I consult with him every day. He's a rising star here and is only going to get bigger. We all love him." And so on and so on. George takes pictures with them, the whole deal. My friends love it and are super impressed and I'm beaming like I'm Rachael Ray with a doughnut.

The next day I thank George and tell him how cool that was. He says, "Matthew, it's my pleasure. You ever need me to take pictures or do anything like that again, just let me know." I was like, "Really?" One of my jobs every week was to bring him all the scripts and memorabilia he had to sign every week for charities, etc. I saw firsthand how many people wanted a picture with him. And I mentioned this. To which he replied something that has always stuck with me.

"I always do it. No matter what. Look, it's 30 seconds out of my life. And now those people had a good experience. And the next time my name comes up, for the rest of their lives, they'll say 'Yeah, I met Carlin once. He was nice.' I'd much rather that than a lifetime of 'Yeah, I bought all that guy's albums and then he wouldn't even sign my hat. That guy was a jerk.' Thirty seconds for a lifetime? I'll do that every time."[/quotefe15c76178]