Gilbert Gottfried: Stars pay tribute to late comedian and actor

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Gilbert Gottfried was a US stand-up comedian and actor

Stars including Amy Schumer, Mark Hamill and Seth MacFarlane have led the tributes to "one-of-a-kind" US comic and actor Gilbert Gottfried, after he died aged 67 following a long illness.

The stand-up comedian was known for voicing the wise-cracking parrot Iago in Disney's 1992 animated film Aladdin.

He also appeared in films like Problem Child, Look Who's Talking Too and Beverly Hills Cop II.

"Gilbert was so sweet. Genuinely kind, a legend," actress Schumer posted.

Stars Wars star Hamill also shared a tribute online. "He was a unique voice in comedy on so many levels," he wrote, "Unpredictable, one-of-a-kind, hilarious & irreplaceable!"

Adding: "Thank you for the lifetime of laughs, sir."

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Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted: "Gilbert Gottfried made me laugh so hard that day on set, I could barely do my job.

"A wholly original comic, and an equally kind and humble guy behind the scenes. He will be missed."

Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin recalled her fond memories of Gottfried. "I am so sad to read about the passing of Gilbert Gottfried," she wrote, alongside a picture of them together. "Funny, politically incorrect but a softie on the inside."

"We met many times; he even pranked me on a plane, replacing my interpreter Jack Jason (they're like twins).

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The stand-up comedian and actor was known for his roles in Aladdin and Problem Child

Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a hardware store owner, and began performing stand-up aged 15, before going on to write and perform sketches on Saturday Night Live.

Later moving into movies, he played accountant Sidney Bernstein in the 1987 film Beverly Hills Cop II, which reunited him with his former SNL colleague Eddie Murphy.

In the early 1990s, he got his major breakout role as the adoption agent Igor Peabody in the dark US comedy sleeper hit film Problem Child and its sequel Problem Child 2; and then portrayed the parrot Iago in Aladdin. He also played Joey, the baby gym instructor, in the rom-com Look Who's Talking Too.

Problem Child director Dennis Dugan told The Hollywood Reporter Gottfried was "the sweetest guy" and "one of the funniest guys I ever worked with, for sure".

"You'd think that maybe he was a guy who worked in the back of a library, putting books onto the racks," he said. "He was just the nicest, quietest little guy, and then you'd say action, and like an atomic bomb, he would just explode."

The director recalled how he had to stand up to studio executives to allow him to let the camera roll on after takes in order to catch some of Gottfried's improvisations.

"So they were yelling, 'What are you doing there? You're way over budget on film.' And I go, 'Well, we're doing a comedy, right?' And they go, 'Yeah.' And I said, 'Well, we got Gilbert Gottfried'," he explained.

"And when I'd say action, Gilbert Gottfried does the script, and then he just starts going. You don't say cut. You just let him go. [I'd say] 'Don't look at how long it is - watch the film, and see what you think.' And so they called me back, and they go, 'All right. You're OK because he's that funny.'"

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Producer Dara Kravitz and her husband in 2017

As his comedic style developed, Gottfried became well-known for his exaggerated shrill squawking voice, squinting and an emphasis on shocking humour - courting controversy for an endless series of crude jokes at 1991 Emmys ceremony, as well as gags about 9/11.

He met his future wife, producer Dara Kravitz at a Grammy Awards ceremony in the late 1990s and they went on to have two children, Lily and Max, together.

News of Gottfried's death was announced on his official social media channels. "We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness," the post 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.

"Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honour."

His friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz said in a statement he died from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II, a disorder that affects the heart.

Shortly before his death, Gottfreid defended Chris Rock for his joke at the Oscars that led to Will Smith storming the stage and assaulting him.

Paying his respects, fellow actor, comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks also paid his respects, tweeting: "So sorry to hear about Gilbert Gottfried's passing.

"Truly a funny, funny guy. So unique. He will be sorely missed."

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