Louie Anderson, Stand-Up Legend and ‘Baskets’ Emmy Winner, Dies at 68
Louie Anderson, who won the Emmy in 2016 for his role on FX's "Baskets," has died at the age of 68.
Anderson’s publicist Glenn Schwartz broke the news to Deadline that Anderson died Friday at a Las Vegas hospital, where he had just begun treatment for diffuse large B cell lymphoma.
The news comes just days after Schwartz revealed Louie’s cancer diagnosis. His publicist said at the time, “Iconic comedian Louie Anderson is currently in a Las Vegas hospital being treated for DLBCL Diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a form of cancer. He is resting comfortably.”
According to WebMD, diffuse large B cell lymphoma — or DLBCL — is “a cancer that starts in white cells called lymphocytes” and usually grows in lymph nodes. Some of the symptoms include a “lump in your groin, armpit, or neck,” as well as fever, night sweats, and shortness of breath.
Anderson, who was born March 24, 1953, in St. Paul, Minnesota, made his first appearance as a comic on "The Tonight Show" in 1984, a major milestone on his path to becoming, according to Comedy Central, one of the 100 greatest stand-up acts of all time.
He was cast in the pilot of the '80s sitcom "Perfect Strangers," but was replaced by Mark Linn-Baker, and appeared in the films "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1984), "Ratboy" (1986), and "Coming to America" (1988).
In 1995, he created and produced the animated FOX series "Life with Louie" (1995-1998). For his voice work on the series, which focused on his childhood as the son of an abusive father, he won two Daytime Emmys.
His sitcom "The Louie Show" (1996) fared less well, lasting just six episodes, but he hosted "Family Feud" for three years (1999-2002) and became a frequent guest star on TV series, game shows, and reality programs.
He was blackmailed over his sexual orientation for a year from 1997, but eventually went to authorities, which resulted in a conviction that put his blackmailer in prison.
From 2003-2012, Anderson, by then a comedy legend, had a lucrative gig in Las Vegas with his "Louie: Larger Than Life" act.
Anderson achieved his greatest success playing a woman, Christine Baskets, on the FX dramedy "Baskets" (2016-2019), about a dysfunctional family. He was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series three times, winning in 2016.
Anderson had always said Christine was a tribute to his late mother. Upon winning the Emmy, he emotionally said, "I'm just so overwhelmed... It's such an honor to get this award. I really give it up for my mom. This is like her being here, and I'm happy for her. She was a star in her own right, so, I couldn't be happier."
After "Baskets" ended in 2019, he appeared on "Young Sheldon" (2020), on five episodes of "Search Party" (2020), reprised his role as Maurice for "Coming 2 America" (2021), and gave his final performances for TV on two episodes of the series "Twenties" (2021).
Anderson is survived by his sisters, Lisa and Shanna Anderson.
After the news broke, many big names mourned his loss. His "Louie Show" co-star Bryan Cranston wrote, "I was saddened to hear the news today of Louie Anderson's passing. Twenty six years ago I played his best friend in a series and this morning I've been wistfully remembering that experience with him. Louie was known for being big, but that wasn't just in his presence. He was also big-hearted. An expert in the craft of comedy, and a very kind man. Although The Louie Show only lasted six episodes…later on he was able to showcase his big talent on Baskets. I was delighted to see him really shine. Bravo, Louie. Rest now big fella."
Howie Mandel tweeted, "What is going on ? We just lost another beautiful funny friend . Omg there’s got to be more funny up there than down here. Norm Bob and now@LouieAnderson."
See more reactions below:
Louie Anderson : Your generosity of spirit will cover the world from above .. we are so lucky you were on earth for a moment , spreading your humor all over like bars of living gold .. Good Bye
Already faced the Reaper 4 years ago. Made me drop a buncha weight, switch to plant-based foods, and add daily exercise. I’m not shaking in my jorts today because I’m *always* worried my heart’ll attack me again. RIP to both Meatloaf & Louie Anderson. Their art made life better. https://t.co/6YYDKw51POpic.twitter.com/BGA8DGhtHe
Louie Anderson made me cry almost as much as he made me laugh. Never have I encountered someone with that much duality. A true Comics comic. Purging the depths of his pain to make you laugh. What beautiful soul. I ❤️❤️ u Louie. Hope your at peace now 🙏🙏. #BeautifulLegend