The Kennedy Center

George Carlin


George Carlin is a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author. Throughout his extraordinary career, Carlin has released twenty-two solo albums and three books, which were each on The New York Times Best-Seller List. The five-time Emmy nominated actor starred in fourteen HBO Specials and appeared in a wide variety of television and movie roles. He was the first host of Saturday Night Live, and has appeared on The Tonight Show over 130 times. Carlin received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1987, and was inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame in 1994.

George Carlin was born in New York City, New York, the son of Mary and Patrick Carlin. He grew up in Manhattan and was raised by his mother.

Carlin began his career in radio in July, 1956 at age 19 while serving in the United States Air Force in Louisiana. In 1960, he and friend Jack Burns quit radio to appear together in nightclubs as "Burns and Carlin." For two years, they played leading comedy clubs, and made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. The duo split in 1962 so Carlin could pursue a solo career in comedy.

In 1961, Carlin married Brenda Hosbrook whom he had met while touring the previous year, in her parents' living room in Dayton, Ohio. The couple had a daughter, Kelly, in 1963. They were married until her death in 1997.

In his early solo comedy career, Carlin balanced mainstream material with outspoken, irreverent routines that would become his trademark. In the mid-1960s, he began to make a number of television appearances. His first album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, was released in 1967 on RCA Victor.

He appeared with Doris Day in the film "With Six You Get Egg-Roll" in 1967, as well as television shows including Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, Tom Jones, Jackie Gleason, and Steve Allen.

In 1972, Carlin released the comedy album "FM & AM," on Little David Records, which won a Grammy Award and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was the first of four successive Gold records that he would release during the first half of the 1970s.

Carlin has recorded eighteen albums of stand-up comedy and four audiobooks. Ten of his albums have been nominated for Grammy Awards.  His most notable collection is the 1999 release George Carlin: The Little David Years, 1971-1977, a seven-CD package that includes several home recordings that he made when he was twelve years old.

George Carlin found wide exposure through cable television. In 1977 he taped "On Location: George Carlin at USC" for HBO, which was first in a long line of specials for the cable channel. In 1992, "Jammin' in New York" was broadcast live from the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In 1989, Carlin grew popular with a new generation of fans when he was cast as Rufus, in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and reprised his role in the film sequel Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey as well as the first season of the cartoon series. In 1991, he acquired an even younger audience when he provided the narrative voice for the American version of the children's show "Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends", which he continued until 1998. He played "Mr. Conductor" on the critically-acclaimed PBS children's show "Shining Time Station" for which he picked up two Emmy Award nominations.

In 1999, Carlin appeared Kevin Smith's cult classic film Dogma. He worked with Smith again with a cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and in Jersey Girl.

In addition to comedy, George Carlin has held serious movie acting roles. In 1991, Carlin had a major supporting role in the movie The Prince of Tides, starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. In Kevin Smith's serious 2004 film Jersey Girl, Carlin played the prominent role of Ben Affleck's character's father. It was Carlin's eleventh feature film.

He has also performed voice-over work in three animated films: "Tarzan II," "Happily N'ever After," and "Cars."

In 1997, Hyperion published his first book, Brain Droppings, a collection of original routines, one-liners, commentaries and essays.  In hard cover and paperback, the book spent a total of 40 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list and has sold nearly 900,000 copies. The "book-on-tape" version, read by Carlin himself, won the 2001 Grammy in the Best Spoken Comedy category.

A second book, Napalm & Silly Putty, was published in April 2001, reaching the number one spot on the New York Times best-seller list in its second week.  The paperback edition, published a year later. Both formats combined have now sold over 600,000 copies. Once again, the Audiobook CD version garnered a Grammy award.

A third book, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops? was published in hard cover by Hyperion in the fall of 2004, the paperback again following the next year. Sales to date are at the 600,000-copy mark, bringing his total book sales to just over two million copies. The Audiobook CD version of When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops? was nominated for a 2006 Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album of the year category.

George Carlin performs 90 concerts around the country each year, selling nearly a quarter of a million tickets. Additionally, he makes about eight visits annually to Las Vegas, where he performs four-day weekends at the Orleans Hotel, considered by many comics as the best comedy venue in Las Vegas.

George Carlin passed on June 22, 2008 of heart failure in Santa Monica, California.
George Carlin