George Carlin died of heart failure Sunday, June 22, 2008 at age 71.
Carlin began his professional career in radio (KJOE in Shreveport,
Louisiana) in July 1956 at the age of 19 while serving in the USAF. The turning
point for Carlin came in Fort Worth, Texas (1959) on KXOL. Together with
newsman Jack Burns, he started developing comedy routines for an
eventual nightclub act. Burns and Carlin stayed together for two years,
eventually making a first appearance on "The Tonight Show"
with Jack Paar. During this period, George met Brenda Hosbrook, whom he
married in 1961.
1963, Carlin branched out to folk clubs and coffee houses where the
audiences were more progressive, and he focused on the mainstream and
the more outspoken, irreverent routines that were closer to his heart.
Ironically, it was in the folk/jazz setting that he developed the first
bits that got him on television, the ultimate establishment medium.
"The Indian Sergeant," "Wonderful Wino" and
"Hippy Dippy Weatherman" were all born during this period, as
was George and Brenda's only daughter, Kelly.
Carlin burst onto the television scene in the mid
'60s, making 58 television appearances in '65 and '66 alone. In 1967 he
released his first album, "Take-Offs
and Put-Ons" and began the transition to acting, his original
goal. However, a guest shot on "That Girl" and a part in the
Doris Day film "With Six You Get Egg-Roll" only served to make
him feel that he wasn't quite ready for acting, and so he concentrated
on his stand-up career.
Because of the influence television was having on his
career, Carlin's material grew bland and safe and he increasingly felt
bored and dissatisfied with his material. By 1970, the self-imposed
restrictions no longer applied, his acting career had been put on hold,
and the country was changing. The people who had inhabited the folk
clubs and coffee houses of the early '60s were now the
"counterculture," a large, ready-made audience which shared
many of Carlin's out-of-step attitudes and opinions, and he began to
drift in their direction.
The irreverent tone returned to his material, he grew
a beard, and began to dress more casually. However, the "new" George
Carlin didn't sit well with the middle-class audiences nor with the
nightclub owners. A series of incidents with audiences and club owners
that year culminated in his being fired from the Frontier Hotel in
September for saying the word "shit." From then on, his comic
identity became more and more associated with the counterculture.
In 1972, a recording contract led to the release of
& AM," an album which won a Grammy Award after going gold.
It was the first of four successive gold albums that Carlin recorded
during the first half of the 1970s. Ten of his "original"
albums have been nominated for Grammys.
Carlin gained wide exposure for his stand-up routines
on cable television, specifically Home Box Office. In 1977, he
taped "On Location: George Carlin at USC," a special at the
California campus which initiated an unprecedented string of nine HBO
comedy concert broadcasts, including the highly regarded "Carlin at
Carnegie," taped in New York in 1982. Carlin won Cable Ace Awards
It Again" in 1990, and in 1992 for "Jammin'
in New York." He also received an Emmy nomination for that
performance. The CD, "Jammin'
in New York," from that show won him the 1993 Grammy Award for
Best Spoken-Word Comedy Album.
In 1984, Carlin published his first book, "Sometimes
a Little Brain Damage Can Help," and in 1987, he was awarded a star
on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. In 1992, Carlin earned two Emmy nominations
playing the part of Mister Conductor on the critically acclaimed
children's show, "Shining Time Station," seen nationally on
PBS. In January 1994, "The George Carlin Show"
premiered on FOX TV. Twenty-seven shows were produced before its
cancellation one year later. In 1996, Carlin once again took to the
stage of the famed Paramount Theater in New York City for the taping of
an HBO Comedy Concert, "Back
in Town," which was nominated for a Cable Ace Award. A CD from
that concert was released in September 1996.
In 1997, Carlin celebrated 40 years in show business,
20 years of HBO specials, and his 60th birthday. HBO
devoted an entire week to George Carlin specials, in conjunction
with the Aspen Comedy Festival, which included the special "George
Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy." He released a 90-minute video tape entitled
"George's Best Stuff," featuring highlights from his nine HBO specials.
George Carlin was one of the best. He will be missed.
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50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s
Born: in New York
in New York
in the Bronx
May 12, 1937
Died: Jun 22, 2008