George Carlin


George Carlin

George Carlin, May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008 was an American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic and author. Carlin was noted for his black comedy and his thoughts on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects. Carlin and his "Seven dirty words" comedy routine were central to the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government's power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves.

Carlin was born in Manhattan, New York. He was the younger son of The Sun advertising manager Patrick John Carlin (1888-1945), an immigrant from County Donegal, Ireland, and secretary Mary Carlin (née Bearey; 1896-1984), who was an American of Irish ancestry. While he came from a Catholic family, Carlin rejected religion. His parents separated when he was 2 months old due to his father's alcoholism. Mary subsequently raised George and his older brother, Patrick Carlin, Jr. (born October 1, 1931), on her own. His maternal grandfather, Dennis Bearey, was an Irish immigrant who worked as a New York City policeman. One immigrant grandmother's maiden name once was O'Grady, he recalled, but it changed to Grady before she reached America. "They'd dropped the O in the ocean on the way here," he said.

In 1959, Carlin met Jack Burns, a fellow DJ at radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas. They formed a comedy team and after successful performances at Fort Worth's beatcoffeehouse called The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960.