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Overview for George Carlin
George Carlin

George Carlin

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Also Known As: George Dennis Carlin Died: June 22, 2008
Born: May 12, 1937 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... comedian actor producer writer disc jockey author TV host
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BIOGRAPHY

his twelfth HBO special, "Complaints and Grievances" - which was originally titled "I Like it a Lot when People Die," but was changed after the September 11th attacks. The following year, he was given the Free Speech Award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, and re-teamed with Smith for "Jersey Girl" (2004), which gave him his biggest and most dramatic role to date as Ben Affleck's father. Sadly, the flack over Affleck's failed relationship with Jennifer Lopez overshadowed the picture's brief stint at the box office, preventing many from seeing Carlin in fine dramatic form.

In 2004, Carlin made news twice: first for placing second on Comedy Central's list of the "Top 100 Comics of All Time;" second, for entering a treatment facility to cure his dependency on alcohol and painkillers. He emerged in 2005 and returned to performing, premiering his thirteenth HBO special, "Life is Worth Losing" (2005), which saw Carlin focusing on some of the darkest subject matter of his career - suicide, natural disasters and aut rotic asphyxiation. The CD earned him his seventh Grammy nomination. That same year, Carlin served as the eminence grise of "The Aristocrats" (2005), Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza's hilarious documentary about a long-running and particularly vulgar joke favored by stand-ups. In 2006, Carlin launched a national tour to hone material for his latest HBO special, "It's Bad for Ya" (2008). He announced during a date that year that he had suffered heart failure sometime in late 2005 or early 2006. Despite this latest health setback, Carlin was busy with performing and acting gigs, which included lending his voice to characters in the animated features "Cars" (2006) and "Happily N'ever After" (2007).

In early 2008, Carlin starred in his fourteenth comedy special, "George Carlin: It's Bad For Ya" (HBO, 2007-08), which covered such topics as death, old age and "American bullshit." Sadly, "It's Bad For Ya" proved to be his last - on June 22, 2008, Carlin was admitted to Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, complaining of chest pains. Later that evening, Carlin died of heart failure. He was 71. Just four days before, it was announced by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., that Carlin was to be the 2008 honoree of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, an honor that would have been bestowed in November that year.ng hippie, and spoofed the private eye genre as a deceased detective whose spirit assists a young woman solve his murder in "Justin Case," a 1987 TV movie by Blake Edwards that was intended (but never saw the light) as a series pilot. He also shot a low-budget feature comedy called "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989) - an unexpectedly witty pop-culture spoof in which he played the futuristic mentor to a pair of hapless California nitwits charged with saving humanity. The latter was a huge hit with younger audiences, who got their first taste of Carlin's offbeat humor through the picture.

On the comedy front, Carlin taped two more HBO specials - 1986's "Playin' with Your Head" and 1988's "What Am I Doing in New Jersey?" - both of which were also recorded as comedy albums and garnered Grammy nominations. He also received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1987 in a ceremony presided over by the dean emeritus of television comedy, Milton Berle.

Carlin kicked off the 1990s with his seventh HBO special, "Doin' It Again" (1990), which was released as an album under the title Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics, earning him another Grammy nomination. He also purchased the independent record label Little David, which had released all of his albums since 1971, renaming it Eardrum Records. In 1991 alone, he appeared in two feature films -"Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" and "The Prince of Tides," as star and director Barbara Streisand's gay friend - and surprised many longtime fans (and parents) by replacing Ringo Starr as both the narrator of the PBS broadcast of "Thomas the Tank Engine" (ITV, 1984- ) and as Mr. Conductor, the six-inch-tall host and star of "Shining Time Station" (PBS, 1989-1993), an American spin-off of "Thomas." Carlin would remain with the series until 1993 and earn two Emmy nominations from the kid-friendly series. Again, Carlin's hectic schedule and lifestyle caught up with him during this period, and he suffered the worst of his three heart attacks while driving to Las Vegas in 1991.

Carlin bounced back with more new material, beginning in 1992 with "Jammin' in New York," his eighth HBO special and the first to be broadcast live on the network. The special won him a CableACE award, and the resulting comedy album landed him his first Grammy Award. Two years later, Carlin attempted a sitcom on the Fox network, but "The George Carlin Show" (1993-95), which featured the comic as a garrulous New York cab driver, ended after its second season - proving yet again that Carlin was best left unscripted.

Carlin gave one of his best performances as a grizzled Indian tracker and companion to Sonia Braga in "Streets of Laredo," a 1995 follow-up miniseries to the popular "Lonesome Dove" (1993). He taped his ninth and tenth HBO specials in rapid succession during the following years: 1996's "Back in Town" was also broadcast live on the network, and 1997's "George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy" featured a career retrospective of his television stand-up appearances, as well as a tribute and interview by Jon Stewart. The special won two CableACE awards and was nominated for an additional two Emmys; however, the celebration was dimmed significantly by the death of Carlin's wife that same year on the day before his 60th birthday.

Carlin bounced back from the tragedy with the release of Brain Droppings, a 1997 collection of his musings on life, society, politics and the human condition. The book spent 18 weeks on The New York Times best seller list, and the soft-cover edition (1998) beat that record by an additional two weeks. Its popularity spurred Carlin to pen two more books - Napalm and Silly Putty (2001) and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004). The former was another best seller and earned Carlin a Grammy for the audio book version, while the latter - which compiled routines from throughout his career - received press for its cover, which placed Carlin next to Jesus in Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," keeping it off the shelves at Wal-Mart. A collection of all three books, entitled An Orgy of George, which was supplemented with new material, was released in 2006.

In 1999, the comic legend joined forces with independent filmmaker and satirist Kevin Smith to explore a subject the atheist Carlin could truly get behind - the questioning of religious faith - in the feature "Dogma," in which Carlin played a Catholic cardinal who implements a more "user-friendly" version of Jesus in churches. He also taped several commercials for MCI and relocated from Los Angeles - his home for the past 23 years - to Las Vegas, where he was appearing regularly, ending a 10-year engagement at Bally's in 2000 and launching a new contract at the MGM Grand the following year. Carlin also taped his eleventh HBO special, "You Are All Diseased," which featured some of his strongest and darkest material to date - "There Is No God" was among the bits - and earned him two Emmy nods and a Grammy nomination for the CD version. That same year, Carlin's early career received a retrospective with The Little David Years (1971-77), a seven-disc set which compiled his first six solo CDs and included unreleased material, as well as six early recordings made by Carlin as a boy at a penny arcade on Coney Island.

In 2001, the 64-year-old Carlin received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards. He also kicked off a 15-city tour to promote Napalm and Silly Putty, which saw him return to many of the major primetime talk shows, and taped p

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