Earlier today, the family of Gilbert Gottfried announced that he passed away “after a long illness.” He was 67 years old and highly regarded as a comedian’s comedian. Gottfried’s intentionally shrill voice always had character, and he had a knack for finding the humor in almost any situation.
In addition to his stand-up act, Gottfried appeared in film and television roles for over four decades. He always made people chuckle, and that’s why his family requested that everyone laugh “as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor.” That’s why we’ve put together this list of Gottfried’s five most memorable film roles, as well as clips from each movie.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
In one of his earliest film roles, Gottfried played an account named Sidney Bernstein opposite Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop II. It’s a relatively minor role in the movie, but it is entertaining to see Axel trick Sidney into giving him access to his computer. Essentially, Sidney talks himself into bribing a police officer just to escape some parking tickets and potential humiliation. This isn’t Gottfried unleashed like he was in his standup routines, but it is a taste of things to come.
The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)
Did you know that Gottfried was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor by the Razzies for his turn as shock jock Johnny Crunch in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane? It’s probably because the late ’80s wasn’t the right time for the film’s vulgar humor, which seems almost tame in comparison to some modern comedies. Johnny has a key part in the story as one of Ford’s friends and the guy who hired him to find a missing groupie. This movie may also be the first time that Gottfried died on screen.
This may actually be Gottfried’s best and most well-known role. And that’s not an exaggeration, because Gottfried was given a lot to do as Iago, the parrot sidekick of Jafar, the main bad guy in Disney’s modern animation classic Aladdin. Iago is funny, even though his brand of evil is one note in the film. But Iago proved to be so popular with audiences that he was brought back for the Aladdin animated series and its direct-to-video movies as a reformed ally of Aladdin and his friends. In the end, Iago had a semi-heroic legacy as one of the franchise’s most beloved characters.
The Aristocrats (2005)
The documentary, The Aristocrats, examines the wildly different takes on a longstanding comedy staple that usually involves telling the story of someone walking into a talent agency and pitching a wild act. Gottfried’s inclusion in the film comes from his delivery of said joke at the 2001 New York Friars’ Club roast of Hugh Hefner, which took place only a few weeks after 9/11. After bombing with an edgy joke, Gottfried launched into an absolutely filthy retelling of the Aristocrats joke that had the audience howling with laughter. Fair warning, it’s pretty NSFW even in the limited clip from below.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
Gottfried only had a small role in Seth MacFarlane’s western comedy A Million Ways To Die in the West. But, of course, it was a memorable one. In one brief scene, Gottfried portrayed President Abraham Lincoln as a crude and crass speaker, which is the opposite of the popular perception of Honest Abe as a virtuous and eloquent speaker. It’s completely ridiculous, and yet it still works because Gottfried had an uncanny ability to make anything funny.