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Famous Comedians Who Died Young

Shweta Ajwani
When Mark Twain said, "The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.", little did he know that the weapon wouldn't defend these brilliant comedians against death. Read about the most famous comedians who passed away way too young, burying laughter in the early sands of time.
"I am tired of being the funniest person in the room." - last words of comedian Del Close (1934 - 1999)
"There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
... and people who possess the ability to make others laugh are irresistible themselves. Not everyone can make others laugh, not everyone can just walk into a room full of people, crack a joke, manage to make every single person laugh, and get away with it, without offending any one.
It is an art. Some are born with it, while some develop it. Very, very few are extremely good at it. Professional comedians. Living by making others laugh to their heart's content.
And when you lose those very few extremely good ones, what are you left with? Nothing but memories. Memories of legendary comedians taking the stage and making their audience laugh. This Entertainism article gives you a list of comedians that led a happy life, but met tragic, untimely ends. May their soul rest in peace.

John Belushi

January 24, 1949 - March 5, 1982
Cause of Death: Overdose on a mixture of cocaine and heroin (a speedball).
Age at the Time of Death: 33
Medium: Stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, variety, and comedy.
Born as John Adam Belushi, he was known for his raunchy humor. His comic acts were characterized by brashness and dollops of energy.
Best known for his appearance as one of the original cast members on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, Belushi garnered nationwide fame and appreciation for the same. His career as a comedian began in 1971, when he joined The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago.

Richard Jeni

April 14, 1957 - March 10, 2007
Cause of Death: Self-inflicted gunshot.
Age at the Time of Death: 49
Medium: Improve and stand-up comedy.
Born as Richard John Colangelo, he was better known by his stage name, Richard Jeni, and was ranked 57 on Comedy Central's list of The 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time in 2004.
Jeni received instant recognition with his constant appearances on The Tonight Show and on The HBO Comedy Hour's show Richard Jeni: Platypus Man. Richard Jeni also starred in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno more than any other stand-up comedian.

Bernie Mac

October 5, 1957 - August 9, 2008
Cause of Death: Lung scarring due to sarcoidosis and pneumonia complications.
Age at the Time of Death: 50
Medium: Stand-up comedy, film, and television.
Bernard Jeffrey 'Bernie' McCullough adopted the stage name Bernie Mac for his American stand-up comedian actor image. Not just a comedian at the All Jokes Aside comedy club in Chicago, Mac was also a very famous Hollywood actor and voice-artist, but gained fame and recognition for being a stand-up comedian.
He starred on The Bernie Mac Show as the lead and earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. His other film appearances were in movies like The Players Club, Guess Who, Bad Santa, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Booty Call, Transformers, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

Gilda Radner

June 28, 1946 - May 20, 1989
Cause of Death: Ovarian cancer.
Age at the Time of Death: 42
Medium: Sketch comedy, Broadway.
Gilda Susan Radner was a famous American comedienne and actress. She was best known for her appearance on the hit NBC comedy show Saturday Night Live as one of the original cast members. Earning an Emmy nomination for this portrayal and winning the award in 1978 was her career highlight. Her Broadway career shone bright after she appeared in a successful one-woman show, Gilda Radner: Live From New York.

Greg Giraldo

December 10, 1965 - September 29, 2010
Cause of Death: Overdose on prescription medication.
Age at the Time of Death: 44
Medium: Stand-up comedy and television.
Few know that this extremely successful stand-up comedian was also a retired lawyer. Best known for his shows on Comedy Central's televised roast specials, Giraldo mainly delivered observational comedy, black comedy, and surreal humor.
He started his career as a stand-up comedian in 1992, and said that he was influenced not by the best but by the worst comedians, and thought that he could do better.

Mitch Hedberg

February 24, 1968 - March 29, 2005
Cause of Death: Multiple drug toxicity in the form of cocaine and heroin.
Age at the Time of Death: 37
Medium: ----
A brilliant American stand-up comedian, Mitchell Lee 'Mitch' Hedberg was known for his surreal comedy style and unconventional comic delivery. His onstage persona and comedian acts became so famous that he gained a cult following. He was loved by his audience. This was evident from the fact that his audience would shout out the punchlines to his jokes before he could finish them.
He began his stand-up comedy career in Florida and went on to be dubbed as 'the next Seinfeld' by Time Magazine. His career highlight was his own independent feature film Los Enchiladas!. He was the writer, director, producer, and lead actor in this film.

Andy Kaufman

January 17, 1949 - May 16, 1984
Cause of Death: Kidney failure caused by metastasized large-cell lung carcinoma.
Age at the Time of Death: 35
Medium: Comedy.
Born as Andrew Geoffrey 'Andy' Kaufman, he referred to him as a 'song-and-dance man' instead of as a comedian. He thought of himself more as an entertainer and performance artist rather than a comic artist. His commitment to character and original performance styles gained a cult following and tremendous love from his audience.
His portrayal as a Foreign Man, who would try and impersonate famous celebrities, gained immense popularity. His impersonation of Elvis Presley was so incredible, that Presley himself claimed it to be his favorite. The fact that he disliked sitcoms and was not very interested in being a part of one, is what sets him apart from the rest of the comedians.

Chris Farley

February 15, 1964 - December 18, 1997
Cause of Death: Overdose on speedball (combination of cocaine and heroin).
Age at the Time of Death: 33
Medium: Comedy.
An American comedian and actor, Christopher Crosby Farley was better known by his stage name Chris Farley. A notable member on Chicago's Second City Theater, as well as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (a hit NBC sketch comedy show), Farley idolized famous comedian John Belushi.
In a very similar setting, Farley's death bears a striking resemblance to his idol, John Belushi's. They both died on an overdose of speedball, which is a combination of cocaine and heroin.
Farley was best known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live, The Chris Farley Show, and The Tonight Show. Farley also featured in 'Soul to Squeeze', a music video by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Sam Kinison

December 8, 1953 - April 10, 1992
Cause of Death: Car accident.
Age at the Time of Death: 38
Medium: Comedy.
Known for his 'intense, harsh, and politically incorrect humor', Samuel Burl 'Sam' Kinison, was an excellent American stand-up comedian and actor. He was also a former Pentecostal preacher like his father. His stand-up comedy acts and routines were mostly characterized by an intense and very energetic style, similar to that of enthusiastic preachers.
His trademark style of punctuating his acts with a peculiar scream set his on-stage appearances on fire. Although he began his career as a comedian by performing in clubs, the credit to his fame and recognition goes to his appearance on Rodney Dangerfield's Ninth Annual Young Comedians Special, also considered his breakthrough performance.
It is sad that these talented comedians left this world so early. But something that's lost to death can never be brought back. We can only honor their lives and careers by carrying their legacies forward. Sharing and cherishing their funny jokes, reliving their hilarious stage acts, and laughing away on their witty one-liners will do justice to their souls, and make them smile up there in heaven.