Like dozens—actually, probably hundreds—of other comedians, Gilbert Gottfried hosts a podcast. Unlike many of them, though, he has found a unique niche: the oft-forgotten celebrity.
Butch Patrick, Adam West, Ken Berry, Greg Evigan, and Barbara Feldon are just a few of the seasoned performers Gottfried has interviewed since launching his Amazing Colossal Podcast in 2014. Forty-somethings like Judd Apatow and Dan Harmon have stopped by to reminisce, as have 80-somethings like Julie Newmar and the late Joe Franklin. (His oldest guest so far may be F Troop star Larry Storch, who’s 92.)
“I was originally gonna call the show The Before It’s Too Late Show,” Gottfried says, laughing. “But I was kind of worried—with a title like that, I’d have to go up to these people and go, ‘Hey, can you come on my podcast? Because I think you might be dead in a week!’”
This week I called Gottfried and posed one question: If he could have any dead celebrity on his podcast, who would he choose? Below are a few names he threw out:
1. JACK BENNY (1894-1974)
Right off the bat, Gottfried says he wishes he could’ve met the legendary entertainer. “When I watch shows of his that pop up on TV, I still laugh,” he says.
2. GROUCHO MARX (1890-1977)
The Marx Brothers come up a lot on the Amazing Colossal Podcast; in a recent ep, Gottfried interviewed Groucho’s former personal assistant. “I don’t know what I’d ask him,” he says. “It also depends what period of time I’m talking to Groucho, if it’s his Duck Soup days or his last years.”
3. MARGARET DUMONT (1882-1965)
Speaking of the Marx Brothers, Gottfried says he also wishes he could’ve met the actress who appeared in many of their movies. (“She would be the rich society woman,” he says.) Other long-gone actresses on his wish list include Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
4. GEORGE BURNS (1896-1996)
Gottfried says he never met Burns, but if he could talk to him now, he knows just what he’d ask: “Did he really f*** around on Gracie?” When I ask whether he thinks he’d get a real answer, he jokes, “He’s dead now, so he’d be a lot more honest.”
5. MAE QUESTEL (1908-1998)
Though the actress appeared in several films, she’s best known as the former voice of Betty Boop. “It was a weird cartoon,” Gottfried says. “I think when Betty Boop started, it was supposed to be a sexy girl dog and her dog boyfriend. Then they decided to make her into an actual girl, but they kept her boyfriend a dog. So it was kind of perverted.”
6. JACK CARTER (1922-2015)
Gottfried says the comedian was scheduled to appear on his show shortly before his death in June. “I was really looking forward to that one, and then his manager called up and said, ‘He’ll have to cancel, ‘cause he’s going into the hospital.’ So that was the end of that.”
7. NORMAN FELL (1924-1998)
Though best known as landlord Mr. Roper on Three’s Company, Gottfried says he’d ask him about much more than his sitcom career. “He would’ve been a great interview. He did comedy, dramatic parts. … Movies pop up from every time period, and you’ll see him show up as a cop or something.”
8. JACK PIERCE (1889-1968)
“I would love to have been able to speak to some of the old makeup artists from the old horror films,” Gottfried says, citing Pierce’s work on iconic Universal monsters like Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein's monster.
9. ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865)
Why? “I played him in A Million Ways to Die in the West,” Gottfried says. “I could [ask him] if I got the performance right.”
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