It was easy to immediately think cancer or some other disease killed Robert Schimmel, an extremely gifted standup comic who died this weekend from injuries he suffered in a car accident two weeks ago.
After all, the always-blue comedian survived a heart attack, as well the death of an 11-year-old son, due to cancer, in 1993. His second wife later left him for his neighbor. He was actually gearing up for another fight when the crash occurred on Aug. 26.
“What I’m going through is a cakewalk,” Schimmel, 60, recently told Howard Stern, after the split with his wife.
“Hard guy to forget,” Stern said this morning.
Schimmel and one of his sons were passengers in a car driven by his 19-year-old daughter, Aliyah. She apparently swerved to avoid another car and the vehicle she was driving rolled to the side of a Phoenix freeway. She and her brother are expected to recover from their injuries, according to published reports.
Schimmel had an incredibly relaxed manner onstage. He was best known for the kind of scatological humor that could have made Richard Pryor squirm. But he did it so smoothly, you couldn’t help but laugh.
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He also joked openly about his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and even wrote a memoir about it two years ago, “Cancer on $5 a Day (Chemo Not Included).”
Bob, whose career got a huge boost from Rodney Dangerfield, had to leave a Fox sitcom a decade ago after he was forced to immediately begin chemo.
Once he was back onstage, Schimmel did what he could to make people aware of their ability to beat cancer. He also recently had a Showtime special called “Life Since Then.”
Then, after his wife cheated on him, he talked openly about the incident on Stern’s program. And just when you thought he’d been through more than many can endure, Schimmel disclosed that the chemo treatments gave his cirrhosis.
“The world lost a true comedian, one of the greats. He turned his pain into laughs. He was fearless. RIP ROBERT SCHIMMEL,” Marlon Wayons wrote on Twitter.
“Robert Schimmel was one of the funniest and nicest guys in comedy,” Jimmy Kimmel tweeted.
“Robert Schimmel was one of the first people in comedy to call when my folks were fighting cancer. No ego no bs no small talk just inspiration,” added Dane Cook.
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