When the news broke, fans and industry colleagues were quick express their grief. In our own effort to pay tribute to the man and his significant legacy, we’ve put together a list of some of his wildest and most memorable contributions to the worlds of animation and voice acting.
Below, 10 of Gottfried’s most unforgettable voice acting roles:
For those of us who skipped the 2019 Aladdin remake, Gottfried is the only Iago we have ever known. From the original 1992 feature to its animated series spin-off, video games, home video releases and more, Gottfried appeared in just about all of them. Although the character began as the mischievous sidekick to villainous sorcerer Jafar, in the animated series (1992-1994) Iago pulled off a legendary heel-to-hero transformation, turning on Jafar and joining the good guys, even if sometimes reluctantly. A generation learned about redemption through Gottfried’s multi-layered vocal performance.
In another of his long-running roles, Gottfried voiced Digit on PBS’ popular kids’ program Cyberchase for 13 seasons. In the show, Digit is the avian sidekick to three kids tasked with protecting cyberspace from an evil hacker. He appeared in 82 episodes over two decades, with generations of fans learned to appreciate tech and mathematics from the public access program.
Gottfried being cast as Jerry Seinfeld in the animated series adaptation of Kevin Smith’s classic indie comedy Clerks made all the sense in the world. Casting Gottfried to voice Patrick Swayze when the Ghost actor refused to do it himself was a stroke of minor genius.
Celebrity Death Match (2002)
Gottfried was one of the only celebrities to voice themselves on MTV’s Celebrity Death Match when he sat in as a guest host for matches between child stars Frankie Muniz and Robert Iler, authors Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, and models Rebecca Romijn and Naomi Campbell.
Smiling Friends (2020)
In one of his most recent roles, Gottfried played God in one episode of Adult Swim’s comedy series Smiling Friends.
Be Cool About Fire Safety (1996)
For better or worse, Gottfried’s turn as an anthropomorphic smoke detector is still etched into the psyche of many 1990s kids.
Aflac Duck (1999-2011)
Gottfried’s portrayal of the Aflac Duck has made the feathered mascot one of the insurance game’s most famous characters and a marketing icon, now enshrined on Madison Avenue’s Walk of Fame. So popular was the character that it even landed a cameo in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The role was eventually taken away from Gottfried when he made a series of jokes about the 2011 tsunami in Japan, a country where three quarters of Aflac’s business was located at the time.
Animal Crackers (2017)
For a time it was unclear if or when Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft’s circus-themed feature Animal Crackers was ever going to be available to audiences, as it was stuck in distribution purgatory for years. What a shame that would have been, as we’d have missed out on Gottfried’s performance as villain Mario Zucchini, one of the film’s greatest virtues. Eventually, Animal Crackers‘s rights went to Netflix where it can now be streamed.
Gottfried voiced con artist Art DeSalvo, a recurring character on the USA Network’s classic adult animation series Duckman. A foil to the show’s titular protagonist, Duckman’s partner Cornfed once described DeSalvo as a “fast talking, deeply cynical and completely amoral manipulator.”
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (2014)
Eleven years after Elf hit theaters and quickly became an annual tradition for many, Warner Bros. Animation produced the stop-motion tv special spin-off Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas. Gottfried voiced ruthless capitalist and book publishing executive Mr. Greenway and while the special isn’t quite the perennial hit its predecessor has become, it was watched by nearly five million viewers and received a strong critical reception.