Iconic comedian, actor and author Louie Anderson has died. The Hollywood Reporter confirms Anderson passed away on Friday in a Las Vegas hospital due to complications from cancer. He was 68.
Anderson is best known for his stand-up specials – the most recent being 2018's Big Underwear – and as a three-time Emmy nominee and winner of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance on FX's Baskets.
Born Louis Perry Anderson on March 24, 1953, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Anderson was the second youngest of 11 children. His large family, his childhood in the Midwest, and his weight all became recurring subjects throughout his decades of comedy.
Making his television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984, Anderson joked during his set, "People say, 'Louie, why do you do those fat jokes?' Because if I didn't, you guys would sit out there and go, 'You think he knows he's that big?' Like I woke up one morning, 'Oh, no! Honey, get in here!'"
Anderson made his big screen debut that same year, playing Taxi Driver #2 in Cloak & Dagger, followed by roles in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in 1986 and Coming to America in 1988. (He would return for the long-awaited sequel, Coming 2 America, in 2021.)
In 1994, he created Fox's animated series, Life With Louie, in which he voiced a younger version of himself. His most acclaimed TV work came in 2016, when he was cast as Christine Baskets on Baskets, the mother of twin boys played by Zach Galifianakis. He modeled the character after his own mother and won an Emmy for the role in 2016.
"Mom, we did it!" Anderson exclaimed onstage at the Emmy Awards. "I have not always been a very good man, but I play one hell of a woman. This is for my mom, Ora Zella Anderson, who I stole every nuance, shameful look, cruel look, loving look [and] passive-aggressive line from. I really thank her."
Anderson is also the writer of four books, including 2018's Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too, and, for a few years at the turn of the century, as the host of the game show Family Feud.
Following the news of Anderson's death, collaborators, colleagues and friends, including Henry Winkley, Gilbert Gottfried, George Wallace and others, took to social media to pay tribute to the comic: