Emmy Winning Comic, Louie Anderson, dies at 68
Emmy-winning actor and comedian Louie Anderson passed away this week at the age of 68. Anderson enjoyed a four-decade career as a comedian and actor including his Emmy-winning performance as a mom to twin adult sons in the TV series “Baskets.” Anderson died at a hospital in Las Vegas on Friday of complications from cancer, said his publicist.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Anderson used his girth and a checkered childhood in his stand-up routines. Years later, it would be revealed that his life as one of 11 children in a family headed by a troubled father and devoted mother became a source of inspiration for Anderson’s screen work and bestselling books. Anderson, born March 24, 1953, was the 10th child of Ora and William Anderson. His father played trumpet with musical great Hoagy Carmichael and, Anderson has said, was an alcoholic.
Anderson’s portrayal of Christine Baskets, mother to twins played by Zach Galifianakis, in FX’s “Baskets” received three consecutive Emmy nods. Anderson played the role with specific touches that he credits to his mom, “Nuance is what I go for, tiny rather than bigger things. Mom did things with her eyes or her grimace or her disappointed lips — or her passive-aggressiveness,” he told the AP in 2015, laughing. “Rolling eyes were big in our family.”
Anderson’s other TV credits include hosting the game show “Family Feud” from 1999 to 2002, comedy specials and frequent late-night talk show appearances, and voicing an animated version of himself as a kid in the cartoon series “Life with Louie,” which aired from 1994 to 1998.
Anderson’s early jobs included counseling troubled children. His career changed course when he won a 1981 comedy competition where he was spotted by comic Henny Youngman. Anderson went on to write for Youngman and then gained onstage experience while crisscrossing the U.S. His big break came in 1984 when Johnny Carson brought him on to perform.
The comic made guest appearances on several TV series including Scrubs and Touched by an Angel. He was on the big screen in 1988 when Eddie Murphy cast him in Coming to America and in the sequel last year. Anderson recounted during a magazine interview that he spotted Murphy in a Los Angeles restaurant and told the waiter to place Murphy’s bill on his credit card but not to tell him until Anderson had left. Anderson ended up with a $600 charge on his card and later received a call from Murphy thanking him and offered to write a part in his Coming to America movie.
Said actress Viola Davis, “You were as gracious and kind as you were funny. Keep ‘em laughing in Heaven.”
Comedian George Wallace wrote: “You will be missed, Louie. What an awesome friend.”
As he posted a photo of himself with Anderson and Bob Saget, who died on Jan 9, Gilbert Gottfried wrote the caption “Both good friends that will be missed.”