George Carlin

On this date in 1937, George Dennis Patrick Carlin was born in Manhattan, N.Y., to an Irish Catholic family. The salty stand-up comedian received two Grammys, for “FM & AM” (1972) and “Jammin’ ” (1993). He was arrested for disorderly conduct in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Radio or Television.” A case about his right to perform this show on the radio went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Carlin was the first host of “Saturday Night Live” (1975), and appeared in 11 HBO specials since 1977.

Typical quips: “When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.” “If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else.” “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.” Carlin inspired the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, honoring public figures who “tell it like it is” about religion. He was a 2001 recipient

He married Brenda Hosbrook in 1961 and they had a daughter, Kelly Marie, in 1963. Brenda died in 1997. He married Sally Wade in 1998. 

Carlin died of heart failure at age 71 in 2008. His ashes were scattered at New York City nightclubs where he performed and over a New Hampshire lake where he had attended summer camp as a teen. His autobiography Last Words was published in 2009. The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade was published by his widow in 2011. (D. 2008)

PHOTO: Carlin in 2008 at one of his last shows; photo by Bonnie Murphy under CC. 2.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation