Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning actor and comedian, has died. His publicist Glenn Schwartz confirmed his death to Deadline. He was 68. The actor had large B cell lymphoma, a form of cancer, and was hospitalized earlier in the week in Las Vegas.
Anderson was born on March 24, 1953, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was initially a children’s services social worker, but he started doing stand-up comedy in 1978 on a dare. Someone challenged him to give it a try after he remarked that none of the comedians he saw one night at local spot Mickey Finn’s were funny.
“I started out in comedy to get recognition. I think I did it was because I got a lot of attention from people. I got their smiles and their approval. I took everyday situations or real-life things and blew them out of proportion and they were funny and people liked it,” he said during an interview with KTCA show Nighttimes in 1979.
He found success in stand-up and won first place at the 1981 Midwest Comedy Competition. Three years later, he landed his TV debut on The Tonight Show. He was then featured on HBO’s 9th Annual Young Comedians Special, alongside Bob Saget, Yaakov Smirnoff, and Rita Rudner.
Within the next couple of years after his first TV appearance, his onscreen career really took off. In 1986, he had small roles in Quicksilver, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Ratboy, and became a regular on The New Hollywood Squares. In 1988, he got a sizable role in Coming To America as Maurice, Akeem and Semmi’s coworker at McDowell’s.
He created the animated series Life With Louie in 1994, loosely based on his childhood. He voiced the eight-year-old version of himself. He won two Daytime Emmys for the show in 1997 and 1998.
Anderson also had his own live-action sitcom, The Louie Show, that premiered in 1996, featuring Bryan Cranston, Paul Feig, and Kimmy Robertson. The show was short-lived, with only six episodes. He also became the host of Family Feud in 1999, leaving the show in 2002. Anderson continued to get steady work throughout his career and won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his role in Baskets as Christine Baskets in 2016. He also had a recurring role in Search Party’s third season as Bob Lunch.
Besides his prolific acting work, Anderson also wrote four books that delve into his tumultuous childhood: The F Word: How To Survive Your Family, Dear Dad: Letters From An Adult Child, Goodbye Jumbo…Hello Cruel World, and Hey Mom: Stories For My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too.
Anderson is survived by two sisters, Shanna and Lisa.