One of my favorite comedians has died:
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN)—Comedian-actor George Carlin, known for his raunchy but insightful humor, died of heart failure Sunday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 71.
Jeff Abraham says Carlin went into St. John’s Health Center on Sunday afternoon, complaining of chest pain. Carlin died at 5:55 p.m. PDT, The Associated Press reported.
Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas.
“He was a genius and I will miss him dearly,” Jack Burns, who was the other half of a comedy duo with Carlin in the early 1960s, told the AP.
Carlin was best known for his routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television,” which appeared in 1972’s “Class Clown” album.
When Carlin uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested for disturbing the peace, the AP reported. The comedy sketch prompted a landmark indecency case after WBAI-FM radio aired it in 1973.
The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices ruled on a 5-to-4 vote that the sketch was “indecent but not obscene,” giving the FCC broad leeway to determine what constituted indecency on the airwaves.
“So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I’m perversely kind of proud of,” Carlin said. “In the context of that era, it was daring.”
“It just sounds like a very self-serving kind of word. I don’t want to go around describing myself as a ‘groundbreaker’ or a ‘difference-maker’ because I’m not and I wasn’t,” he said. “But I contributed to people who were saying things that weren’t supposed to be said.”
The title of this entry is what Carlin said he’d like folks to say upon hearing of his death so it seemed only appropriate. The following is a bit called “Modern Man” from one of his HBO specials:
He was a funny man and I’ll miss him greatly.
Get ready to cue the various editorial cartoonists depicting his arrival in Heaven in spite of the fact that he was an avowed atheist.