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Actor, writer, and comedian George Carlin was known for his stand-up routines as well as TV appearances and roles in such films as 1987's Outrageous Fortune.
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As a self-professed atheist and avid cocaine user, his adversaries deemed him anti-religious and disrespectful of society. However, the comedian's new material brought him success from the younger counterculture. Carlin illustrated his anti-establishment views by being the first host of the risque TV show Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975.
In 1977, Carlin starred in his first of HBO comedy specials, On Location: George Carlin at USC. In all, he did 14 such specials, including 2008's It's Bad For Ya!
In 1990, Carlin compiled a multi-CD set that highlighted his work from the 70s, titled George Carlin: The Little David Years (1971-'77) (1990). The collection included the albums: FM & AM, Class Clown, Occupation: Foole, Toledo Window Box, An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Slaszo, and On the Road. Carlin received two Grammy Awards for FM & AM (1990) and Jammin' in New York (1992), for which he won a Grammy. You Are All Diseased (1999) is abundant with his trademark satire and profanity about American family life.
Carlin published Brain Droppings in 1997. The book included his comedic take on life, society and politics. It spent 18 weeks on the New York Times' best-seller list. Two years later, syndicated columnist Mike Barnicle was suspended from the Boston Globe, after he had plagiarized passages from Carlin's book. To Carlin's benefit, the widely publicized controversy led to an increase in book sales.
Throughout his career, Carlin took on a number of comedic roles in films such as 1987's Outrageous Fortune and as Rufus, an emissary from the future, in 1990's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. He took a more dramatic turn in The Prince of Tides (1991). He also was featured in Kevin Smith's film Dogma (1999), in which he played Cardinal Glick, a fame-seeking religious figure. In 2006, he provided the voice of Fillmore, a hippie Volkswagen bus, in the animated Cars.
Carlin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1987.
In the 1990s, Carlin enjoyed success with series television. Starting in 1991, he provided the voice of the train conductor on PBS' kid-friendly Shining Time Station for two years and narrated Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends through 1998. He also starred as a cab driver in The George Carlin Show from 1993 to 1995.
In addition to his acting, writing and recording, Carlin continued to perform about 150 dates a year on the road. In 2004, he placed second behind Richard Pryor on Comedy Central's list of "Top 100 Comics of All Time." On June 17, 2008, just five days before his death, it was announced that he was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Carlin's first wife, producer Brenda Hosbrook, died on May 11, 1997 of complications from liver cancer. Their 35-year marriage produced a daughter, Kelly. He is survived by his second wife of ten years, Sally Wade.
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