Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning comedian, dead at 68

Louie Anderson, longtime comic and game show host who won an Emmy for his supporting role as Christine Baskets in the FX series “Baskets,” has died at age 68.

He died in Las Vegas after undergoing treatment for diffuse large B cell lymphoma. His publicist said he “passed away peacefully” Friday morning in a statement to The Post.

Perhaps best known for his brilliant, subversive turn in the 1988 comedy “Coming to America,” he scored the role as the sole white person in the groundbreaking comedy. Anderson chalked it up to his nice-guy Midwestern roots.

His role as Maurice — the seemingly mild-mannered McDowell’s clerk — produced one of the most iconic soliloquies in comedy. “Hey, I started out mopping the floor just like you guys. But now … now I’m washing lettuce,” said Anderson’s sad-sack Maurice with withering underdog determination. “Soon I’ll be on fries; then the grill. In a year or two, I’ll make assistant manager, and that’s when the big bucks start rolling in.”

Tributes poured in on social media, with DL Hughley calling him “one of my all time favorites” and Michael McKean weighing in on his series “Baskets,” calling it “such a phenomenal ‘second act’” for the actor, adding, “I wish he’d gotten a third.”

In 2017, Anderson he told The Post that he hoped to return to television again but in a male role — and a drama — at some point.

“I would like to do a drama show and I’d like to play a man again,” he said. “I don’t know if [this role] will translate to people as me being an actor. I do have a lot of people who want to meet with me — a lot of times because they love the character. I’m grateful. I think people think, “Oh, he’s such a good actor,” which makes me believe I was worse than I thought, that I must’ve been quite shallow [before]. But I don’t hold that against anybody.”

Louie Anderson has died.
Louie Anderson has died at age 68.

At the invitation of talk show legend Johnny Carson, Anderson made his national television debut on “The Tonight Show” in 1984 and later had appearances on late-night shows hosted likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson.

His career was spawned guest roles not only in sitcoms — including “Grace Under Fire” — but also in dramas, like “Touched by an Angel” and Chicago Hope.” In 1995 he also kicked off a long-running Saturday morning children’s show, the Emmy-nominated animated series “Life with Louie,” about his childhood.

Louie Anderson scored an Emmy in 2016.
Louie Anderson scored an Emmy in 2016 for his part in “Baskets.”
Louie Anderson plays Christine Baskets in "Baskets."
Louie Anderson plays Christine Baskets in “Baskets.”
Comedian Louie Anderson during an interview with Jay Leno, who was then a guest host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," in 1991.
Comedian Louie Anderson during an interview with Jay Leno, who was then a guest host for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” in 1991.

In the late ’80s, Anderson — a Saint Paul, Minnesota, native — was at the swanky Beverly Hills celeb-magnet restaurant the Ivy, where Eddie Murphy and his entourage happened to be dining. Anderson footed the entire bill for Murphy and his group, with explicit instructions not to tell the waiter it was him until Anderson left: “Don’t tell him ‘til after I leave. I’m not doing it to be a big shot. I’m doing it because I’m from the Midwest and that’s how we would do [it],” Anderson recounted to the “Sway in the Morning” satellite radio crew in 2017.

The next morning, Anderson received a call from Murphy. He not only offered thanks for the gesture — “Nobody ever bought me anything,” Murphy told Anderson — but also said he wanted to cast Anderson in “a little movie called ‘Coming to America.’”
Marveling at comedic karma, Anderson said, “That’s life, isn’t it? It was the best $660 I ever spent.”

“That’s a big movie in my life, first big job,” Anderson to Sway in 2017, recalling his breakthrough role in the film.

Louie Anderson was seen in the first "Coming to America."
Louie Anderson was seen in the first “Coming to America.”
Louie Anderson performs during the second day of KAABOO Del Mar in 2018.
Louie Anderson performs during the second day of KAABOO Del Mar in 2018.

Anderson also said he gave some unsolicited advice to Murphy in the 1980s, when both were on the stand-up circuit in LA: “I’d always go, ‘Eddie, you’re too dirty on stage – be clean. You can be funnier being clean, you’ll just do twice the business,’” Anderson recalled to Sway in the same 2017 interview. “And he’d just look at me,” added Anderson.

But the “Raw” comedian must have listened to Anderson: 1988’s “Coming to America” smoothed his normal edges, and became the highest-earning film that year for the studio and the second-highest-grossing film at the US box office.

The actor returned to the franchise with a cameo in "Coming 2 America" in 2020.
The actor returned to the franchise with a cameo in “Coming 2 America” in 2020.

But he was especially grateful for his late-career, award-winning part on “Baskets,” which was a life-changing one for him. At 62, I got the role of a lifetime,” he told Variety in 2016.

He based the character on his own mom, who died in 1990 and whom he credits for his success.

“Christine is me being able to draw from my mom,” he told The Post in the 2017 interview. “There’s joy for me in . . . giving a chance for my mother to shine in the spotlight . . . for all she did for me, to pay it back and step aside and let her shine through loud and clear. Anybody who knew my mom can’t get over how many things I’m using from her.”

“I would like to do a drama show and I’d like to play a man again,” he said. “I don’t know if [this role] will translate to people as me being an actor. I do have a lot of people who want to meet with me — a lot of times because they love the character. I’m grateful. I think people think, “Oh, he’s such a good actor,” which makes me believe I was worse than I thought, that I must’ve been quite shallow [before]. But I don’t hold that against anybody.”

In 2018, Anderson weighed in on his love of comedy. “I love the anatomy of a joke,” he told The Post. “It’s like archaeology — if you dig too deep, you miss it, and if you don’t dig deep enough, you won’t find it. It’s a kind of crazy thing.”

Louie Anderson at the American Comedy Awards in 1987.
Louie Anderson at the American Comedy Awards in 1987.

Anderson also wrote several books, including the 2018 memoir “Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too,” as well as “Dear Dad – Letters From An Adult Child,” a roundup of both touching and outrageous letters written from Anderson to his late father. He also published the 1994 self-help book “Good­bye Jumbo…Hello Cruel World” and a previous 2002 memoir, “The F Word: How To Survive Your Family.”

Anderson, who was one of 11 children, is survived by his two sisters, Lisa and Shanna Anderson, according to his publicist.

Per: NYP

One thought on “Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning comedian, dead at 68

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.