LOS ANGELES (AP) -- His bemused and irreverent take on life earned George Carlin a place as dean of counterculture comedians.
The 71-year-old comedy icon has died.
His publicist says Carlin died of heart failure last evening at a Santa Monica, California, health center, where he had gone yesterday afternoon complaining of chest pain.
Friend and former comedy partner Jack Burns says simply, Carlin was a genius.
His long list of credits includes comedy albums, HBO specials, movies, books and some 130 appearances on "The Tonight Show." A typical Carlin observation: "Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?"
He also took what he told the AP was a kind of perverse pride in a Supreme Court ruling banning a list of nasty words from broadcasting.
But even with his groundbreaking adult-themed humor, Carlin kept a childlike sense of mischief, doing voiceovers for such kid-friendly projects as "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends."
Just last week, the chairman of Washington's Kennedy Center announced Carlin had been chosen for this year's Mark Twain humor prize, saying he makes people laugh but also makes them think.