George Carlin

George Carlin
Doug Hyun / HBO

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George Carlin
Live: West side of the 1500 block of Vine Street
Actor | Comedian | Writer
Born May 12, 1937 in Bronx, N.Y.
Died June 22, 2008 of heart failure in St. John's Hospital, CA

George Carlin was an acerbic, Grammy-winning comedian whose career spanned more than 50 years. Delivering biting social commentaries, Carlin was best known for testing limits of speech and society, gaining notoriety for his "seven dirty words" routine, but his incisive commentaries were as clever as they were vulgar.

Intrigued by "English language and wordplay," the "mundane ... dogs, cats and all that stuff" and "sociopolitical attitude," Carlin earned several gold comedy albums, five Emmy nominations, released 22 solo albums and three bestselling books and won the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, an honor that contrasted sharply with his controversial beginnings.

In 1972, Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee for using indecent language. In a separate case in 1973, a radio listener complained after a station played part of his album. That case went to the Supreme Court, which in 1978 ruled in favor of the FCC, saying the radio station could not broadcast those words at times when children could be listening. Of the Supeme Court ruling, Carlin said, "So my name is a footnote in American history, which I'm perversely kind of proud of."

In the 1990s Carlin added acting to his schedule, appearing in the Barbra Streisand-Nick Nolte movie "Prince of Tides." Other film roles came in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Dogma," with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Carlin authored three books, including "Brain Droppings," a collection of essays and routines, and "Napalm and Silly Putty," a collection of his stand-up material. Both won Grammy Awards. His third book, "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?," was nominated for a Grammy.

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