The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Gilbert Gottfried

A few years before his own death, Gilbert Gottfried witnessed the passing of his sister, Arlene. She was his older sister, both were natives of Coney Island, New York, and it appears their family was a special clan since Arlene Gottfried was accomplished in her own right; she was a preeminent street photographer whose work graced galleries. She was inspired to take photos of all the types of strange people who visited Coney Island, armed with a 35mm camera gifted to her by their father, per The Guardian. Gilbert remembered her as someone who was inspired by what most people found aversive, according to The New Yorker.

Gilbert credits his sister with his start in stand-up. She noticed his penchant for celebrity impressions and jokes, so she referred him to an open-mic opportunity in Manhattan. With his sisters, Gilbert attended the event, which turned out to be an off-beat talent show, but Gilbert always remembered her support. Once Gilbert was a star, she attended his shows, and he made sure to put her on the guest list. Gilbert visited Arlene often after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she died in 2017 at 66 years old, having taken 15,000 pictures in her lifetime, per The New Yorker.

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