George Carlin

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George Carlin
Carlin in 1975
George Denis Patrick Carlin

(1937-05-12)May 12, 1937
New York City, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 2008(2008-06-22) (aged 71)
  • Stand-up comedian
  • actor
  • author
  • social critic
Years active1959–2008
Brenda Hosbrook
(m. 1961; died 1997)
Sally Wade
(m. 1998)
ChildrenKelly Carlin
Comedy career
  • Stand-up
  • film
  • television
  • radio
  • literature

George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American social critic, stand-up comedian, actor, and author. Regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time, he was dubbed "the dean of counterculture comedians". He was known for his dark comedy and reflections on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and taboo subjects.

Carlin was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three-decade Johnny Carson era and hosted the first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975. The first of Carlin's 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977, broadcast as George Carlin at USC. From the late 1980s onwards, his routines focused on sociocultural criticism of American society. He often commented on American political issues and satirized American culture. His "seven dirty words" routine was central to the 1978 United States Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government's power to censor indecent material on public airwaves.

Carlin released his first solo album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, in 1966. He went on to receive five Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album, winning for FM & AM (1972), Jammin' in New York (1992), Brain Droppings (2001), Napalm & Silly Putty (2002), and It's Bad for Ya (2008). The latter was his final comedy special, which was filmed less than four months before his death from cardiac failure.

Carlin co-created and starred in the Fox sitcom The George Carlin Show (1994–1995). He is also known for his film performances in Car Wash (1976), Outrageous Fortune (1987), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), The Prince of Tides (1991), Dogma (1999), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Scary Movie 3 (2003), and Jersey Girl (2004). He also had voice roles as Zugor in Tarzan II, Fillmore in Cars (2006), and as Mr. Conductor on Shining Time Station, as well as narrating the American dubs of Thomas & Friends.

Carlin was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2008. He placed second on Comedy Central's list of top 10 American comedians in 2004,[1] while Rolling Stone magazine ranked him second on its list of the 50 best stand-up comedians of all time in 2017, in both cases behind Richard Pryor.[2]

Early life[edit]

George Denis Patrick Carlin[3][4] was born at Weill Cornell Medical Center (then called New York Hospital) in the Manhattan borough of New York City on May 12, 1937, the son of Mary (née Bearey; 1896–1984) and Patrick John Carlin (1888–1945).[5][6] He had an older brother named Patrick Jr. (1931–2022), who had a major influence on his comedy and was sometimes directly involved.[7] Carlin described himself as "fully Irish" as his mother was born in New York to Irish immigrants and his father was an Irish immigrant from Cloghan, County Donegal.[8] In his posthumously published autobiography Last Words, he wrote about a fantasy of Ireland he would often have when his first wife Brenda was alive: "The southeastern parts so that it would be a little warmer, and the two of us there, close enough to Dublin that you could go buy things you needed."[9] Carlin's maternal grandfather was an NYPD police officer who wrote out the works of William Shakespeare by hand for fun.[10][11] Carlin's parents separated when he was two months old due to the alcoholism of his father, whom Carlin said was "never around".[3] His mother raised him and his brother on her own.[12] When Carlin was eight years old, his father died.[13]

Carlin said that he picked up an appreciation for the effective use of the English language from his mother,[14] though they had a difficult relationship and he often ran away from home.[15] He grew up on West 121st Street in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, which he and his friends called "White Harlem" because it "sounded a lot tougher than its real name".[13] He attended Corpus Christi School, a Catholic parish school of the Corpus Christi Church in Morningside Heights.[16][17] One of Carlin's closest childhood friends was Randy Jurgensen, who would later to become one of the most decorated homicide detectives in NYPD history.[18] His mother owned a television, which was a new technology few people owned at the time, and Carlin became an avid fan of the pioneering late-night talk show Broadway Open House during its short run.[19] He went to the Bronx for high school, but was expelled from Cardinal Hayes High School after three semesters at age 15. He briefly attended Bishop Dubois High School in Harlem and Salesian High School in Goshen.[20] He spent many summers at Camp Notre Dame in Spofford, New Hampshire, where he regularly won the camp's drama award; upon his death, some of his ashes were scattered at Spofford Lake per his request.[21]

Carlin joined the U.S. Air Force and trained as a radar technician. He was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, and began working as a DJ at radio station KJOE in nearby Shreveport. Labeled an "unproductive airman" by his superiors, he received a general discharge on July 29, 1957. During his time in the Air Force, he had been court-martialed three times and received many nonjudicial punishments and reprimands.[22]


1959–1960: Early work and breakthrough[edit]

Carlin (standing) with singer Buddy Greco in 1967

In 1959, Carlin met Jack Burns, a fellow DJ at radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas.[23] They formed a comedy team and after successful performances at Fort Worth's beat coffeehouse called The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960.[4]

Within weeks of arriving in California, Burns and Carlin put together an audition tape and created The Wright Brothers, a morning show on KDAY in Hollywood. During their tenure at KDAY, they honed their material in beatnik coffeehouses at night.[24] Years later when he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Carlin requested that it be placed in front of the KDAY studios near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.[25] Burns and Carlin recorded their only album, Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, in May 1960 at Cosmo Alley in Hollywood.[24] After two years together as a team, they parted to pursue individual careers, but "remain[ed] the best of friends".[26]

Carlin performing on UK's This Is Tom Jones in 1969

In the 1960s, Carlin began appearing on television variety shows, where he played various characters including a Native American sergeant, a stupid radio disc jockey, and a hippie weatherman.[27] Variations on these routines appear on Carlin's 1967 debut album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, which was recorded live in 1966 at The Roostertail in Detroit, Michigan and issued by RCA Victor in 1967.[27] During this period, Carlin became a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show, initially with Jack Paar as host, and then with Johnny Carson. Carlin became one of Carson's most frequent substitutes during the host's three-decade reign. Carlin was also cast in Away We Go, a 1967 comedy show that aired on CBS.[28] His material during his early career and his appearance, which consisted of suits and short-cropped hair, had been seen as "conventional", particularly when contrasted with his later anti-establishment material.[29]

Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce's arrest for obscenity at the Gate of Horn club in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1962. As the police began detaining members of the audience for questioning, they asked Carlin for his identification. After responding that he did not believe in government-issued IDs, Carlin was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle.[30][31] In the late 1960s, Carlin was making about $250,000 annually.[32] Over time, Carlin changed his routines and his appearance; he grew his hair long, sported a beard and earrings, and typically dressed in T-shirts and blue jeans. He lost some TV bookings by dressing strangely for a comedian at a time when clean-cut, well-dressed comedians were the norm. He hired talent managers Jeff Wald and Ron De Blasio to help him change his image, making him look more "hip" for a younger audience. Wald put Carlin into much smaller clubs such as The Troubadour in West Hollywood and The Bitter End in New York City, and later said that Carlin's income was thus reduced by 90% but his later career arc was greatly improved.[32]

1970–1979: Stardom and acclaim[edit]

Carlin in the 1970s

In 1970, record producer Monte Kay formed the Little David Records subsidiary of Atlantic Records, with comedian Flip Wilson as co-owner.[33] Kay and Wilson signed Carlin away from RCA Records and recorded a Carlin performance at Washington, D.C.'s Cellar Door in May 1971, which was released as the album FM & AM in January 1972. De Blasio was busy managing the fast-paced career of Freddie Prinze and was about to sign Richard Pryor, so he released Carlin to Little David general manager Jack Lewis, who, like Carlin, was somewhat wild and rebellious.[34] Using his own persona as a springboard for his new comedy, he was presented by Ed Sullivan in a performance of "The Hair Piece" and quickly regained his popularity as the public caught on to his sense of style.[35]

Starting in 1972, singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin was Carlin's label mate on Little David Records, and Rankin served many times as Carlin's musical guest or opening act during the early 1970s. The two flew together in Carlin's private jet; Carlin says that Rankin relapsed into using cocaine while on tour since Carlin had so much of the drug available.[36] FM & AM proved very popular, and marked Carlin's change from mainstream to counterculture comedy. The "AM" side was an extension of Carlin's previous style, with zany but relatively clean routines parodying aspects of American life. The "FM" side introduced Carlin's new style, with references to marijuana and birth control pills, and a playful examination of the word "shit". In this manner, Carlin renewed a style of radical social commentary comedy that Lenny Bruce had pioneered in the late 1950s.[32]

Carlin c. 1973

In this period, Carlin perfected his well-known "seven dirty words" routine, which most notably appears on Class Clown as follows: "'Shit', 'piss', 'fuck', 'cunt', 'cocksucker', 'motherfucker', and 'tits'. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war." On July 21, 1972, Carlin was arrested after performing the routine at Milwaukee's Summerfest and charged with violating obscenity laws.[37] The case, which prompted Carlin to refer to the words for a time as the "Milwaukee Seven", was dismissed in December when the judge declared that the language was indecent but that Carlin had the freedom to say it as long as he caused no disturbance.[38] In 1973, a man complained to the FCC after listening with his son to a similar routine, "Filthy Words" from Carlin's Occupation: Foole, which was broadcast one afternoon over radio station WBAI. Pacifica received a citation from the FCC for violating regulations that prohibit broadcasting "obscene" material. The Supreme Court upheld the FCC action by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was "indecent but not obscene" and that the FCC had authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience.[39][40]

The controversy increased Carlin's fame. He eventually expanded the "dirty words" theme with a seemingly interminable end to a performance, finishing with his voice fading out in one HBO version and accompanying the credits in the Carlin at Carnegie special for the 1982–83 season, and a set of 49 web pages organized by subject and embracing his "Incomplete List of Impolite Words".[41] On stage, during a rendition of this routine, Carlin learned that his previous comedy album FM & AM had won a Grammy. Midway through the performance on the album Occupation: Foole, he can be heard thanking someone for handing him a piece of paper. He then exclaimed "shit!" and proudly announced his win to the audience.[42] Over his career, Carlin was arrested seven times for reciting the "Seven Dirty Words" routine.[43]

Carlin hosted the premiere broadcast of NBC's Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. Per his request, he did not appear in its sketches.[44] The following season, 1976–1977, he appeared regularly on CBS Television's Tony Orlando & Dawn variety series.[45] Carlin unexpectedly stopped performing regularly in 1976, when his career appeared to be at its height. For the next five years, he rarely performed stand-up, although it was at this time that he began doing specials for HBO as part of its On Location series; he did 14 specials, including 2008's It's Bad For Ya![46] He later revealed that he had suffered the first of three heart attacks during this layoff period.[47] His first two HBO specials aired in 1977 and 1978.[48][49]

1980–1999: Film roles and sitcom[edit]

In 1981, Carlin returned to the stage, releasing A Place for My Stuff and returning to HBO and New York City with the Carlin at Carnegie TV special, which was filmed at Carnegie Hall and aired during the 1982–83 season. Carlin continued doing HBO specials every year or two over the following decade and a half. All of Carlin's albums from this time forward are from the HBO specials.[50][51] He hosted SNL for the second time on November 10, 1984, this time appearing in several sketches.[52]

Carlin began to achieve prominence as a film actor with a major supporting role in the 1987 comedy hit Outrageous Fortune, starring Bette Midler and Shelley Long; it was his first notable screen role after a handful of previous guest roles on television series. Playing drifter Frank Madras, he poked fun at the lingering effect of the 1960s counterculture. In 1989, he gained popularity with a new generation of teens when he was cast as Rufus, the time-traveling mentor of the title characters in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and reprised his role in the film sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) as well as the first season of the cartoon series. In 1991, Carlin had a major supporting role in the film The Prince of Tides, which starred Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, portraying the gay neighbor of the main character's suicidal sister.[53]

Carlin played the role of Mr. Conductor on the PBS show Shining Time Station, and also narrated the first four seasons of the United States, Canada, and New Zealand version of the children's television series Thomas & Friends from 1991 to 1996, replacing Ringo Starr on both programs. According to Britt Allcroft, who developed both shows, on the first day of the assignment, Carlin was nervous about recording his narration without an audience, so the producers put a stuffed teddy bear in the booth.[54] In 1993, Carlin began a weekly Fox sitcom, The George Carlin Show, playing New York City taxicab driver George O'Grady. The show, created and written by The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon, ran 27 episodes through December 1995.[55] In his final book, the posthumously published Last Words, Carlin said about The George Carlin Show, "I had a great time. I never laughed so much, so often, so hard as I did with cast members Alex Rocco, Chris Rich, Tony Starke. There was a very strange, very good sense of humor on that stage ... [but] I was incredibly happy when the show was canceled. I was frustrated that it had taken me away from my true work."[56][page needed] Carlin was honored at the 1997 Aspen Comedy Festival with a retrospective, George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy, hosted by Jon Stewart. His first hardcover book, Brain Droppings (1997), sold nearly 900,000 copies and spent 40 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.[57]

2000–2008: Final HBO specials[edit]

Carlin at a book signing for Brain Droppings in 2004

Carlin later explained that there were other, more pragmatic reasons for abandoning his acting career in favor of standup. In an interview for Esquire magazine in 2001, he said, "Because of my abuse of drugs, I neglected my business affairs and had large arrears with the IRS, and that took me eighteen to twenty years to dig out of. I did it honorably, and I don't begrudge them. I don't hate paying taxes, and I'm not angry at anyone, because I was complicit in it. But I'll tell you what it did for me: it made me a way better comedian. Because I had to stay out on the road and I couldn't pursue that movie career, which would have gone nowhere, and I became a really good comic and a really good writer."[58]

In 2001, Carlin was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards.[citation needed] In December 2003, Representative Doug Ose introduced a bill (H.R. 3687) to outlaw the broadcast of Carlin's "seven dirty words",[59] including "compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms)". The bill omitted "tits", but included "asshole", which was not one of Carlin's original seven words. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in January 2004, where it was tabled.[59]

Carlin in April 2008

Carlin performed regularly as a headliner in Las Vegas, but in 2004 his run at the MGM Grand Las Vegas was terminated after an altercation with his audience. After a poorly received set, filled with dark references to suicide bombings and beheadings, Carlin complained that he could not wait to get out of "this fucking hotel" and Las Vegas; he wanted to go back east, he said, "where the real people are". He continued: "People who go to Las Vegas, you've got to question their fucking intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of fucking moronic. That's what I'm always getting here is these kind of fucking people with very limited intellects." When an audience member shouted, "Stop degrading us!" Carlin responded, "Thank you very much, whatever that was. I hope it was positive; if not, well, blow me." He was immediately fired, and soon thereafter his representative announced that he would begin treatment for alcohol and prescription painkiller addiction on his own initiative.[60][61]

Following his 13th HBO special on November 5, 2005, Life Is Worth Losing,[62] Carlin toured his new material through the first half of 2006. Topics included suicide, natural disasters, cannibalism, genocide, human sacrifice, threats to civil liberties in America, and the case for his theory that humans are inferior to other animals. At the first tour stop in February at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, he mentioned that the appearance was his "first show back" after a six-week hospitalization for heart failure and pneumonia.[citation needed] In the 2006 Pixar animated film Cars, Carlin voiced Fillmore, an anti-establishment hippie VW Microbus with a psychedelic paint job and the license plate "51237" (Carlin's birthday). In 2007, he voiced the wizard in Happily N'Ever After, his last film.

Carlin's last HBO stand-up special, It's Bad for Ya, aired live on March 1, 2008, from the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California.[63] Themes included "American bullshit", rights, death, old age, and child rearing. He repeated the theme to his audience several times throughout the show: "It's all bullshit, and it's bad for ya."[64] When asked on Inside the Actors Studio what turned him on, he responded, "Reading about language." When asked what made him proudest of his career, he cited the fact that his books had sold close to 1 million copies.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In August 1960, while touring with comedy partner Jack Burns in Dayton, Ohio, Carlin stopped at a roadside diner, where he met waitress Brenda Hosbrook.[3] They began dating and were married at her parents' home in Dayton on June 3, 1961.[65] Their only child, daughter Kelly Marie Carlin (born June 15, 1963), later became a radio host.[3] Carlin and Hosbrook renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas in 1971.[3] Their marriage was often marred by his cocaine use and her alcoholism, the latter of which worsened when Carlin's mother came to stay with them and would secretly pour Hosbrook drinks while speaking negatively about Carlin.[3] When Hosbrook was hospitalized due to her drinking, she told Carlin that she would not return home if his mother was still there; he immediately went home, booked his mother on a flight back to New York, and took her to the airport.[3] The couple soon addressed their addiction issues, with the marriage improving so much that Kelly later said it felt like it had been rebooted.[3] Hosbrook died of liver cancer on May 11, 1997, the day before Carlin's 60th birthday.[3][66]

Carlin met comedy writer Sally Wade six months after his first wife's death and described it as "love at first sight", but admitted to her that he was hesitant to act on his feelings so soon after being widowed.[67] He told her that he needed to be alone, potentially for up to a year, before feeling ready to date again.[3] They then had no contact with each other and she assumed he had moved on, but he called her eight months later to ask her out on a date.[3] They wed in a private and unregistered ceremony on June 24, 1998, and remained married until Carlin's death in 2008.[68][69]

In a 2008 interview, Carlin stated that using cannabis, LSD, and mescaline had helped him cope with events in his personal life.[13] He also stated several times that he had battled addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and Vicodin,[70] and spent some time in a rehab facility in late 2004.[71] During the taping of his stand-up special Life Is Worth Losing on November 5, 2005, he mentioned that he had been sober for 341 days.[72]

Although born into a Catholic family, Carlin was outspoken in his rejection of religion in all forms, frequently criticizing and mocking it in his comedy routines.[73] When asked if he believed in God, he responded, "No. No, there's no God—but there might be some sort of an organizing intelligence, and I think to understand it is way beyond our ability."[74]


Carlin had a history of heart problems spanning three decades,[75][76] which included heart attacks in 1978, 1982, and 1991.[47] He also had an arrhythmia requiring an ablation procedure in 2003, a significant episode of heart failure in 2005, and two angioplasties on undisclosed dates.[77] In the 2022 documentary George Carlin's American Dream, Jerry Hamza—Carlin's manager from 1980 until his death—said that Carlin underwent so many heart surgeries in such a short span of time towards the end of his life that he once lifted up his shirt to show Hamza his torso, prompting Hamza to remark that it looked like an experiment.[3]

On June 22, 2008, at the age of 71, Carlin died of heart failure at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.[78][79] His death occurred one week after his final performance at The Orleans Hotel and Casino. In accordance with his wishes, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in front of various New York City nightclubs and over Spofford Lake in New Hampshire, where he had attended summer camp as an adolescent.[80] His will stated that there was to be no funeral, religious or otherwise, and that he wished only for his widow and daughter to host a small gathering at his home for loved ones to share their fun stories of him.[3]


Awards and honors[edit]

Along with numerous other accolades, Carlin won five Grammy Awards and was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards and two Daytime Emmy Awards. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1980 and was a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2008.[citation needed]


Carlin's influences included Danny Kaye,[15][81] Jonathan Winters,[15] Lenny Bruce,[47][82][83] Richard Pryor,[47] Nichols and May,[84] Jerry Lewis,[15][47] the Marx Brothers,[15][47] Mort Sahl,[83] Spike Jones,[47] Ernie Kovacs,[47] and the Ritz Brothers.[15] His daughter Kelly said in 2022 that he took more acting roles in the latter half of his career because he "never gave up on the Danny Kaye dream".[3]

Comedians who have claimed Carlin as an influence include Adam Ferrara,[85] Bill Burr,[86] Chris Rock,[87] Jerry Seinfeld,[88] Louis C.K.,[89] Lewis Black,[90] Jon Stewart,[91] Stephen Colbert,[92] Bill Maher,[93][94] Liz Miele,[95] Patrice O'Neal,[96] Colin Quinn,[97] Steven Wright,[98] Mitch Hedberg,[99] Russell Peters,[100] Bo Burnham,[101] Jay Leno,[102] Ben Stiller,[102] Kevin Smith,[103] Chris Rush,[104] Rob McElhenney,[105] and Jim Jefferies.[106]

The Carlin Warning[edit]

After Carlin's seven dirty words routine and subsequent FCC v. Pacifica Foundation Supreme Court ruling in 1978, broadcasters started to use the "Carlin Warning" to remind performers of the words they could not say during a live performance.[107]


George Carlin Way in Manhattan

Upon Carlin's death in 2008, HBO broadcast 11 of his 14 HBO specials from June 25 to 28, including a 12-hour marathon block on their HBO Comedy channel. NBC scheduled a rerun of the first episode of Saturday Night Live, which Carlin hosted.[108][109][110] Both Sirius Satellite Radio's "Raw Dog Comedy" and XM Satellite Radio's "XM Comedy" channels ran a memorial marathon of Carlin recordings on the day after his death. Sirius XM Satellite Radio has since devoted an entire channel to Carlin, entitled Carlin's Corner, featuring all of his comedy albums, live concerts, and works from his private archives.[111] Larry King devoted his entire show on June 23 to a Carlin tribute, featuring interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Maher, Roseanne Barr and Lewis Black, as well as Carlin's brother Patrick Jr. and daughter Kelly. On June 24, The New York Times printed an op-ed piece on Carlin by Jerry Seinfeld.[112] Cartoonist Garry Trudeau paid tribute in his Doonesbury comic strip on July 27.[113]

A dedication from the Laugh Factory two days after Carlin died

Four days before Carlin's death, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts had named him its 2008 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoree.[114] He became its first posthumous recipient on November 10, 2008.[115] Comedians honoring him at the ceremony included Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Lily Tomlin (a past winner of the prize), Lewis Black, Denis Leary, Joan Rivers, and Margaret Cho. Louis C.K. dedicated his stand-up special Chewed Up to Carlin, while Lewis Black dedicated the second season of Root of All Evil to him.

For a number of years, Carlin had been compiling and writing his autobiography, to be released in conjunction with a one-man Broadway show tentatively titled New York Boy. After his death, his collaborator on both projects Tony Hendra edited the autobiography for release as Last Words. The book, chronicling most of Carlin's life and future plans including the one-man show, was published in 2009. The abridged audio edition is narrated by Carlin's brother Patrick Jr.[116] In March 2011, Carlin's widow Sally Wade published The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade, a collection of previously unpublished writings and artwork by Carlin interwoven with Wade's chronicle of their decade together.[117] The subtitle is a phrase on a handwritten note that Wade found next to her computer upon returning home from the hospital after his death.[118] In 2008, Carlin's daughter Kelly announced plans to publish an "oral history", a collection of stories from Carlin's friends and family.[119] She later indicated that the project had been shelved in favor of completion of her own project,[120] an autobiographical one-woman show called A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George.[121][122]

On October 22, 2014, a portion of Carlin's childhood West 121st Street in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan was renamed "George Carlin Way".[123] Moneyball screenwriter Stan Chervin announced in October 2018 that a biopic of Carlin was being written.[124][125]

George Carlin's American Dream, a documentary about Carlin's life, was released on HBO Max on May 20, 2022. It was directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, and produced by Carlin's daughter Kelly.[126] In a Netflix stand-up special released in May 2022, The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up inducted Carlin into the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York.[127]

Internet hoaxes[edit]

Many online quotes have been falsely attributed to Carlin, including various joke lists, rants, and other pieces. The website Snopes, which debunks urban legends and myths, has addressed these hoaxes.[128] Many of them contain material that runs counter to Carlin's viewpoints; some are especially volatile toward racial groups, gay people, women, the homeless, and other targets. Carlin was aware of this and debunked the quotes by writing on his website, "Here's a rule of thumb, folks: nothing you see on the Internet is mine unless it comes from one of my albums, books, HBO specials, or appeared on my website. [...] It bothers me that some people might believe that I would be capable of writing some of this stuff."

In 2011, "Weird Al" Yankovic referenced the hoaxes in his song "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me" with the lyric, "And by the way, your quotes from George Carlin aren't really George Carlin."



Year Title Role Notes
1968 With Six You Get Eggroll Herbie Fleck
1976 Car Wash Taxi Driver
1979 Americathon Narrator
1987 Outrageous Fortune Frank Madras
1989 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Rufus
1991 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
The Prince of Tides Eddie Detreville
1999 Dogma Cardinal Ignatius Glick
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Hitchhiker
2003 Scary Movie 3 Architect
2004 Jersey Girl Bart Trinké
2005 The Aristocrats Himself Documentary
Tarzan II Zugor Voice
2006 Cars Fillmore
Happily N'Ever After Wizard
2020 Bill & Ted Face the Music Rufus Posthumous release; archival footage[129]


Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Tonight Show Himself 1 episode
1965 The Merv Griffin Show 1 episode
1966 The Jimmy Dean Show 2 episodes
The Kraft Summer Music Hall Writer
1966 That Girl George Lester Episode: "Break a Leg"
1967–1971 The Ed Sullivan Show Himself 11 episodes
1968 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 1 episode
1969 What's My Line? 1 episode
The Game Game 1 episode
The Carol Burnett Show 1 episode
1971–1973 The Flip Wilson Show 6 episodes
Also writer
1972 The Mike Douglas Show 1 episode
1977 Welcome Back, Kotter Wally 'The Wow' Wexler Episode: "Radio Free Freddie"
1975, 1984 Saturday Night Live Host Episodes: 1 and 183
1985 Apt. 2C Fictionalized version of himself, Jesus Christ Pilot episode produced for HBO
1987 Nick at Nite
1988 Justin Case Justin Case TV movie directed Blake Edwards
1990 Working Tra$h Ralph Sawatzky Television film
1991–1996 Thomas & Friends Narrator Series 1–4
Voice, US dub; 104 episodes
1991–1993 Shining Time Station Mr. Conductor, Narrator 45 episodes
1995 Shining Time Station: Once Upon a Time Television film
Shining Time Station: Second Chances
Shining Time Station: One of the Family
Streets of Laredo Billy Williams 3 episodes
Shining Time Station: Queen for a Day Mr. Conductor Television film
1994–1995 The George Carlin Show George O'Grady 27 episodes
1996 Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales Mr. Conductor, Narrator 6 episodes
1999 Storytime with Thomas 2 episodes
1998 The Simpsons Munchie Voice, episode: "D'oh-in' in the Wind"
1999, 2004 The Daily Show Himself 3 episodes
2000 MADtv Mr. Conductor Episodes: 518 & 524
2004 Inside the Actors Studio Himself 1 episode
2008 Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales Fillmore Voice, episode: "Unidentified Flying Mater"; archival recordings

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2006 Cars Fillmore




HBO specials[edit]

Special Year Notes
On Location: George Carlin at USC 1977
George Carlin: Again! 1978
Carlin at Carnegie 1982
Carlin on Campus 1984
Playin' with Your Head 1986
What Am I Doing in New Jersey? 1988
Doin' It Again 1990
Jammin' in New York 1992
Back in Town 1996
George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy 1997
You Are All Diseased 1999
Complaints and Grievances 2001
Life Is Worth Losing 2005
All My Stuff 2007 A box set of Carlin's first 12 stand-up specials
(excluding George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy).
It's Bad for Ya 2008
Commemorative Collection 2018


Book Year Notes
Sometimes a Little Brain Damage Can Help 1984 ISBN 0-89471-271-3[131]
Brain Droppings 1997 ISBN 0-7868-8321-9[132]
Napalm and Silly Putty 2001 ISBN 0-7868-8758-3[133]
When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? 2004 ISBN 1-4013-0134-7[134]
Three Times Carlin: An Orgy of George 2006 ISBN 978-1-4013-0243-6[135] A collection of the three previous titles.
Last Words 2009 ISBN 1-4391-7295-1[136] Posthumous release.


See also[edit]


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External links[edit]