LOS ANGELES (AP) — Louie Anderson, whose 40-year career as a comedian and actor included his unlikely role as the mother of adult twin sons on the Emmy Award-winning series Baskets, died Friday. He was 68 years old.
Anderson died in a Las Vegas hospital from complications from cancer, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime publicist. Anderson had a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Schwartz said earlier.
The burly, chubby Anderson used his height and colorful childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota as the basis for his early standup performances.
In the years that followed, his life as one of 11 children in a family headed by a troubled father and devoted mother became a source of reflection and inspiration for Anderson, both in his screen work and in his best-selling books.
In 2016, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, the mother of the twins played by Zach Galifianakis, on the FX series Baskets. Anderson, who received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for the role, credited elements of the character to his mother.
He has been known throughout television, including as the host of a revival of the game show Family Feud from 1999 to 2002, as well as comedy specials and frequent late-night talk shows.
Anderson voiced an animated version of himself as a child in Life with Louie. He created an animated series that first aired in prime time in late 1994 and was then moved to Saturday mornings between 1995 and 1998. For this role, Anderson received two Daytime Emmy Awards.
He has made guest appearances on several television series, including Scrubs and Touched by an Angel, and was on the big screen in 1988’s Coming to America and last year’s Eddie Murphy comedy sequel. Anderson also toured regularly with his stand-up act.
Anderson’s early work included counseling troubled children. He changed course after winning a Midwest comedy competition in 1981, where he was spotted by veteran comedian Henny Youngman, who, according to Schwartz, was the host of the competition.
Anderson worked as a screenwriter for Youngman and later gained stage experience while traveling around the United States. His big break came in 1984 when Johnny Carson, known for showcasing rising comedians on The Tonight Show, invited him to perform.
His books included Dear Dad – Letters from a Grown Child, a collection of Anderson’s letters to his late father; Goodbye Jumbo… Hello Cruel World, a self-help book, and The F Word, How to Survive in a Family.
His book Hello Mom, published in 2018, is a tribute to the wisdom passed down by his mother and practical advice for dealing with life’s challenges.