On June 22, 2008 at the age of 71, George Carlin died of heart failure after checking into St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California for chest pain. He was considered a counterculture hero as well as a comedic genius, and he will be sorely missed.
George Carlin's most popular albums 'Weird Behavior' and 'Class Clown' basically sum up the childhood of this comedian. School was too confining and Carlin couldn't exactly find his niche in the mainstream. He dropped out of school when he was 17 and joined the Air Force as a radar mechanic. Carlin was given a shift as a deejay at a local radio station in Shreveport, Louisiana and a year later teamed up with the station's newsman Jack Burns. They toured the local nightclub circuit with a comedy act but once they realized things weren't working out they went their separate ways.
In the mid 1960's Carlin began to build his fan base by appearing on variety programs. He delivered soon-to-be classic routines about Al Sleet, the Hippie-Dippie weatherman, crack-brained deejays and Indian War Parties. The exposure and quick taste of celebrity landed Carlin's role as a regular on 'Away We Go,' the 1967 summer replacement for the Jackie Gleason Show.
George Carlin remained popular but soon grew bored with the same routines show after show. He began to rebel against conservatism with his physical appearance. Before the 1960's transformed into the 1970's, Carlin had lost several jobs by dressing like a hippie, complete with earrings and a beard. Before long the change of public taste caught up with the times and George was a hot item again.
One of his more popular routines was one that he was never allowed to deliver on air. 'The Seven Words You Can't Use On Television' was the sole piece of material both deified him with his fans and vilified him with the conservative element. An FM radio station nearly had their license taken away for playing the 'Seven Words' routine on air. At the same time Carlin was arrested during an appearance in Milwaukee for violating obscenity laws. This event served as Carlin's link to the youth culture of the era and landed him the first ever guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Carlin became renowned for his unpredictability in routines. He was known to walk off stage mid-routine if the laughs weren't there. He was also known to verbally abuse his audience and even fail to show completely for shows. Carlin had cleaned up his personal act by the mid 80's and in 1989 became a teen idol in his own right, thanks to his appearance as mentor-from-the-future Rufus in the profitable Bill and Ted movies. After nearly three decades of a productive career, George was offered a sitcom on the Fox Network. In 1993 he played a cab driver named George for the Fox sitcom and in no time at all he was up to his old tricks again, incorporating a heavily edited version of those 'Seven Words' into one of the plotlines.