Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning comedian, dies at 68

Comic was best known for his television role as Zach Galifianakis's mom on the FX series 'Baskets'

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Louie Anderson, the Emmy-winning actor, standup comedian, game show host and author, died on Friday at the age of 68.

Anderson had been suffering from a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and died from surgical complications at a hospital in Las Vegas, said Glenn Schwartz, his long-time publicist.

He began his career doing standup comedy and scored national attention after an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984. One of 11 children, Anderson based much of his comedy and writing on his less than idyllic childhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

An animated series, Life With Louie, which he produced, wrote and starred in, echoed his life with an alcoholic father and an overbearing mother and won him two Emmys. The show ran from 1995-1998 and Anderson would move on to a short-lived, eponymously named series before becoming the host of wildly popular game show The Family Feud for four years.

His most notable role came in the series Baskets. Zach Galifianakis and Jonathan Krisel developed the comedy show about twin brothers living in Bakersfield, California, caught in arrested development — a result of their father's suicide and well-meaning but pesky mother.

“We were developing the character and I was thinking of Louie the whole time,” said Galifianakis at a Hollywood pre-Emmy event in 2018.

“When I told Jonathan this, he said, 'Well, let's ask him.' We did and that's the story.”

Anderson accepted the role of Christine Baskets, for which he garnered three consecutive Emmy nods and a win in 2016.

“So many people tell me that Christine is their mom, which is always interesting to hear because I am basically just imitating my mom,” Anderson said.

The star-studded gathering had been packed with A-listers such as Jeff Daniels, Sharon Stone and Walton Goggins, but it was Anderson who drew the biggest crowd as journalists and stars alike gently tapped his shoulder, asking for selfies.

"Everyone wants to hug Louie. They don't care about Zach anymore," said Krisel.

He made many guest appearances on television shows including Ally McBeal, Scrubs, Young Sheldon and Drunk History. His turns on the big screen included 1988′s Coming to America —as well as last year’s sequel to the Eddie Murphy comedy — and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

His 2018 book Hey Mom was a tribute to his mother and her unique perspective on life.

He also published Dear Dad — Letters From An Adult Child, a collection of missives from Anderson to his late father, and Goodbye Jumbo … Hello Cruel World, a self-help book.

Throughout his career, Anderson regularly toured the country performing his standup act.

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

Updated: January 21, 2022, 6:41 PM

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