Today marks one year without the iconic stand up comedian and beloved (and very distinctly unique) voice actor Gilbert Gottfried.
Last year, he passed away at 67 years old from myotonic dystrophy type two (DM2), a fairly new disease with no current cure which, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), is “an inherited muscular dystrophy that affects the muscles and other body systems (e.g., heart, eyes, and pancreas). It is characterized by prolonged muscle tensing (myotonia) as well as muscle weakness, pain, and stiffness.”
Dara Gottfried (formerly Kravitz) was Gilbert’s only wife and the two were married from 2007 until his death last year, welcoming two children throughout their marriage, Lilly and Max.
In light of his one-year death anniversary, Dara spoke with People to talk about who he was to her and their children and to spread awareness of the incurable disease that led to his far too early death.
Dara begins by sharing the moment they met in 1997 at a Grammy party in New York City.
“I was there because I worked in the music business, and he was there for the free food,” she remembers. “I accidentally dropped food off my plate, and he picked it up and put it on his. I thought it was a bit odd, but I guess I’ve always been attracted to a bit odd. He looked incredibly sweet and a little lost. I felt sorry for him, so I was nice. He asked for my phone number and the rest was history.”
She continues to explain how they were “opposites” of each other – herself being “outgoing and social”, while Gilbert was “shy and introverted”. And so they truly balanced each other in a way that worked perfectly for their relationship. They dated for the next ten years before marrying in 2007.
While Dara wanted to start a family, she says that Gilbert was afraid that having kids would affect his ability to be funny, something he relied on for a career. She assured him that that wouldn’t be the case.
Ultimately, Gilbert trusted his wife and agreed to starting a family together after moving in with each other.
And Dara was right! Gilbert proved to be a great dad while continuing his career.
“We married and had two beautiful children. He was the best father and loved our kids more than anything in the world. He was so sweet,” she gushes. “He would paint Lily’s nails and put little notes with monster faces in Max’s lunchbox. He was so proud of the kids.”
“My life was filled with laughter,” she continues, noting how Gilbert’s comedic character went far beyond his stage presence. But in that joy he felt, she describes the pain he endured once he became sick.
“The last few years weren’t easy,” she explained. “Gilbert suffered from a rare genetic disease called Myotonic Dystrophy Type 2 (DM2). Just discovered within the past 20 years by the University of Rochester’s Department of Neurology, there is currently no cure or treatment, but they are leading the way to finding one.”
With it being such a newly discovered disease, Dara confesses that her late husband had been “undiagnosed for years”.
She goes on to promote the University of Rochester’s Gilbert Gottfried DM2 Research Fund, which is dedicated to Gilbert’s memory and the money donated will go towards “expediting the discovery, testing, and development of beneficial and life-altering therapeutics for patients with DM2.”
Dara concludes her tribute speech with something that Gilbert had always said about comedy and tragedy and how she’s explored his idea of their conceptual relationship since his death.
“He’d say, ‘Comedy and tragedy are roommates,’” she shared. “‘Wherever tragedy is, comedy is looking over his shoulder and sticking its tongue out at him.’ I’ve thought about that a lot over the past year. Sometimes, I feel nauseous from the amount of grief, but we must keep living and laughing.”
“Thank you, Gilbert, for giving us the gift of laughter and love,” she adds. “I’m so lucky to have found him. We love and miss you, Gilbert.”
I think she speaks for all of us – whether you were a fan of his raunchy stand up comedy, or you would play Aladdin on repeat just to hear Jafar’s wise-cracking parrot Iago talk – in that he is truly missed and will be remembered forever.