Why Louie Anderson, Emmy-Winning Wake up Comedian, Dies at 68

Louie Anderson, the iconic Emmy-winning comedian, actor and game show host, died Friday in Las Vegas after battling cancer, his publicist confirmed to Variety. He was 68.

A seasoned stand-up with a career spanning over four decades, Anderson broke through as a comedian in 1984 when he performed a set on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” From there, he performed a comedy special on Showtime in 1987, made regular TV appearances on late-night shows and appeared in movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in 1986 and “Coming to America” in 1988.

In 1995, Anderson produced, created and starred in the Fox original animated series “Life With Louie.” Like much of Anderson’s stand-up, “Life With Louie” was based heavily on his experiences growing up in Saint Paul, Minn., in a large family of 11 children. The comic voiced a fictionalized version of his eight-year-old self in the show, winning two Daytime Emmys for performer in an animated program. The show ran from 1995-1998. In 1996, he created and starred in “The Louie Show,” a short-lived sitcom on CBS that was canceled after six episodes. In 1999, Anderson was the first host for the third revival of the hit syndicated game show “Family Feud,” leaving the show after four years in 2002.

In recent years, Anderson garnered acclaim for his performance in the FX original comedy series “Baskets.” The show, which premiered in 2016 and ran until 2019, starred co-creator Zach Galifianakis as professional clown Chip Baskets, who worked in the local rodeo of Bakersfield, Calif. Anderson portrayed Chip’s overbearing mother Christine in all four seasons of the show, and he received an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor for his work in the first season. He would receive two further nominations in 2017 and 2018.

Recently, Anderson reprised his “Coming to America” role in the 2021 sequel “Coming 2 America” and appeared in a guest role in Season 3 of the HBO Max original series “Search Party.” Since 2017, he has been a regular panelist on the game show “Funny You Should Ask.”

Anderson is survived by his two sisters, Lisa and Shanna Anderson.

Louie Anderson, the genial stand-up comedian, actor and television host who won an Emmy Award for his work on the series “Baskets” and two Daytime Emmys for his animated children’s show, “Life With Louie,” died on Friday in Las Vegas. He was 68.

In 2016, Anderson co-starred with Zach Galifianakis in the FX dark comedy Baskets, where he played matriarch Christine Baskets. The role earned him multiple Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, including one win.

In interviews, he often talked about how the role was inspired by his own mother, who died in 1990. Anderson wrote a book about her in 2018, titled Hey Mom, where he wrote letters to her about his life since her death. He thought it was important to grieve openly.

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