George Denis Patrick Carlin, 1937 - 2008

portrait of George Carlin
On stage at Trenton, New Jersey - 4 April 2008
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Born: 12 May 1937, The Bronx, New York
Died: 22 May 2008, Santa Monica, California

Carlin was raised by his mother in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, which he called "White Harlem" because it sounded tougher. After three semesters at Cardinal Hayes High School he was expelled, although he returned 25 years later to honor the priest in charge of discipline and kept a Hayes baseball jacket in his dressing room on the road. He briefly attended Bishop Dubois High School at Harlem but left to join the Air Force, he served as a radar technician in Louisiana. He started working part time as a disk jockey on KJOE at Shreveport, the Air Force discharged him as "an unproductive airman". In 1959 he worked with Jack Burns as a comedy team on KXOL at Fort Worth, Texas, testing their material at The Cellar. The duo moved to California in 1960, working at Hollywood's KDAY. When he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame he asked that it be placed in front of the KDAY studios. Through the 1960s his standup was delivered wearing a suit and was generally accepted, he was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show. In the 1970s Carlin lost the suits and his work gained an edge, most notably "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" which was the subject of a landmark Supreme Court case that established that the FCC does have the legal authority, if not any logical standing, to ban offensive words from broadcast media. He was arrested several times for his material and once was arrested with Lenny Bruce, he was in the audience and refused to provide ID. In a career spanning five decades, Carlin was an insightful critic of American society as well as a devoted student of language. In fact, he was a noted member of William Safire's Lexicographic Irregulars. He battled substance abuse, specifically cocaine, alcohol, and Vicodin, and had at least three heart attacks and two cardiac surgeries. Living with his second wife at Venice, California, he suffered chest pains and was taken to Saint John's Health Center at Santa Monica where he died later that day of heart failure.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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