Award-winning comedian George Carlin dies
Added: Sun, 22 Jun 2008 23:00:00 UTC
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Comedian-actor George Carlin, know for his raunchy, but insightful humor, died 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.
Carlin was best known for his routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television," which appeared 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."
Carlin, who was also an author, was slated to receive the 2008 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in November.
"In his length career as a comedian, writer, and actor, George Carlin has not only made us laugh, but he makes us think," Stephen Schwarzman, Kennedy Center chairman, said in a statement. "His influence on the next generation of comics has been far-reaching."
In a typical wry response, Carlin said: "Thank you Mr. Twain. Have your people call my people."
Carlin hosted the first broadcast of "Saturday Night Live" in October 1975.
He played the character of Mr. Conductor on the PBS series "Shining Time Station" and starred in more than a dozen HBO specials. Carlin was also a regular on The Tonight Show.
Some classic George Carlin on religion:
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