In the latest of seemingly nonstop hits to the comedy world, legendary comic Gilbert Gottfried passed away Tuesday, April 12th, at the age of 67. While it’d be fair to remember him as a Saturday Night Live cast member, a Howard Stern Show regular, a roast champion, or an Aristocrats master, what perhaps immortalizes Gottfried above all is the larger-than-life voice that boomed out of his slight 5’5″ frame.
Much like the scowl that came with his delivery, Gottfried’s voice was unmistakable. His shrill speech brought a hilarious sense of exasperation to his children’s roles, and hammered home his adult humor. In honor of the late comedian, we’ve rounded up the 10 film and TV roles that utilized Gottfried’s voice best.
You can also read tributes to Gottfried from other comedians, and explore three of his most controversial bits.
10. Patrick Swayze and Jerry Seinfeld, Clerks: The Animated Series (2000)
Gottfried’s voice is iconic for its high-pitched, raspy, near-yell quality, lending itself perfectly to cartoon birds (see later on this list) and… Patrick Swayze? Tapping the instantly-recognizable comedian to voice another well-known celebrity seems absurd — and that’s exactly what drew Kevin Smith and the team behind Clerks: The Animated Series to the idea. After attempting and failing to get Swayze to appear in the series (according to Smith, the actor was insulted by the offer), the team decided to take a different direction. Gottfried makes no attempt to embody Swayze in his performance, instead delivering the lines in his natural Gottfried glory (adding to what is easily the series’ best episode).
He also voiced fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the show, though opting for an over-the-top (but surprisingly accurate) impression this time around, complete with a “What’s the deal?!” Both instances are hilarious, and both prove Gottfried’s innate comedic sense, whether he’s playing a role or “playing” a role. – Jonah Krueger
09. Berkeley Beetle, Thumbelina (1994)
Gottfried brings a much-needed edge to the Disney films in which he appears, and while not his most famous Disney Animation role, Gottfried’s portrayal of Berkeley Beetle is every bit as important to its respective film. In fact, I’d argue that the role is perhaps even better suited for Gottfried’s talents. Beetle is mischievous, not-exactly-trustworthy, and, above all, a committed showman. The character is perfect for the dramatics of Gottfried, and it’s no doubt a highlight of the 1994 film. Beetle and his film may not be as revered as his evil bird counterpart or the behemoth that is Aladdin, but real Gottfried-heads know that appreciation of Gottfried’s work without mention of Thumbelina is sorely incomplete. – J.K.