Sad news out of Las Vegas today, as comedian, actor and game show host Louie Anderson has died. The 68-year-old star of Life with Louie and former Family Feud host died today after starting treatment for cancer earlier this week.
Anderson rose to fame during the stand-up boom of the ‘80s, starting his career by winning the Midwest Comedy Competition in 1981. Late-night spots and cable comedy specials followed, along with a starring role in the pilot for the sitcom that eventually became Perfect Strangers; Anderson was replaced by Mark-Linn Baker when it was picked up to series. He made memorable appearances in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Coming to America (reprising his fast food employee role in last year’s sequel Coming 2 America), and was the star of the 1988 film The Wrong Guys, where he played the leader of a grown-up Cubs Scout troop played by fellow stand-ups Richard Belzer, Franklin Ajaye, and Tim Thomerson. (It is very possible nobody in the world liked The Wrong Guys more than I did when I was 10.)
In 1995 an animated show based on Anderson’s life and comedy, Life with Louie, launched on Fox. The critically-acclaimed series ran for three seasons, and netted Anderson the first of three Emmys he won during his career. During the cartoon’s run, CBS launched a live-action sitcom starring Anderson in 1996 called The Louie Show; despite a cast that included Bryan Cranston and future Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, it only lasted for six episodes. At the end of the ‘90s Anderson took over the hosting job for Family Feud, serving from 1999 to 2002 before being replaced by Richard Karn in 2002. He was the long-running game show’s third host, after Richard Dawson and Ray Combs.
Anderson continued to perform stand-up all along, and popped up in various movies and TV shows throughout the ‘00s. He received the most acclaim of his career in the 2010s, though, for his role as Christine Baskets in Zach Galifianakis’s FX comedy Baskets; his turn as the Galifianakis’s character’s mother earned Anderson his third Emmy in 2016, and he was nominated twice more during the show’s four season run.
Anderson’s illness wasn’t disclosed until Jan. 18, 2022, when it was reported he was hospitalized and would be undergoing treatment for large B-cell lymphoma. He passed three days later, on Jan. 21. The second youngest of 11 children, and the son of a former professional trumpeter who played for Hoagy Carmichael, Anderson is survived by his two sisters.