“Tonight, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the life of a comedy legend,” Don Darryl Rivera, who plays the macaw Iago in the New York stage adaptation, said. “A funny man with an indelible voice. The man who breathed life into Iago for the animated film: Mr. Gilbert Gottfried.”
In the 1992’s Aladdin, Gottfried stole every scene with a squawk. The character was so popular that Disney brought him back several times, including in 1994’s direct-to-video Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar, the animated Aladdin series that ran from 1994 to ’95, and in the anthology series House of Mouse.
Rivera continued, “I along with five other actors worldwide have the distinct privilege to bring Iago to life on stage and I think one of the main reasons this character is who he is, is because of what Gilbert brought to the animated film: his comedy and that voice. That voice that the New York Times once said, ‘Sounded like a busted Cuisnart.’
“The first time I ever met Gilbert was on this very stage. The curtain had just come down, and up comes Gilbert from the wings and he put his arm around me and we snapped a few photos. But then, I pulled out this, the Aladdin VHS, and his eyes lit up like it was the magic lantern itself. He signed it for me and it’s still one of my most treasured possessions.”
In conclusion, Rivera said, “Gilbert was really kind, and sweet, and surprisingly soft-spoken. I know that he will be deeply missed by his friends and his fans. The Gottfried family posted on social media, ‘Although today is a very sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible to honor Gilbert.’ So on behalf of the entire company here at Aladdin, Mr. Gottfried: Thank you for the laughs. Good night.” Check out the speech below, and if you’d like to see Aladdin on Broadway, you can book your seat here.
Since his passing was announced, tributes have come pouring in from friends and fans alike. Check out our list of Gottfried’s 10 most iconic voice roles — it’s not spoiling much to say that Iago takes the top spot — and in honor of his commitment to offending audiences, revisit three times he crossed the line and paid a price.