Aladdin Broadway Cast Remembers 'Comedy Legend' Gilbert Gottfried: 'He Will Be Deeply Missed'
Noam Galai/WireImage Gilbert Gottfried
Despite never acting in a stage musical, Gilbert Gottfried left an impact on Broadway.
On Tuesday, the cast of Aladdin on Broadway took time following a performance to pay tribute to the late comedian, who died earlier the same day at age 67 "after a long illness," according to his family's announcement on Twitter.
Actor Don Darryl Rivera, who portrays Iago — the parrot character Gottfried voices in Disney's 1992 animated film version of Aladdin — stood in front of the rest of the show's cast and delivered a heartfelt speech about the former SNL star.
"Tonight, we'd like to take a moment to celebrate the life of a comedy legend," said the Broadway performer, "a funny man with an indelible voice, the man who breathed life into Iago for the animated film, Mr. Gilbert Gottfried."
"I, along with five other actors worldwide, have the distinct privilege to bring Iago to life on stage," continued Rivera, for whom Aladdin marks his Broadway debut, before speaking to Gottfried's uniqueness. "But I think one of the main reasons this character is who he is, is because of what Gilbert brought to the animated film: his comedy and that voice. That voice that The New York Times once said sounded 'like a busted Cuisinart.'"
Recalling a time when Gottfried attended a performance of Aladdin and met Rivera and his castmates backstage, the actor said they took photos together before he presented the original Iago actor with a VHS tape of the film.
"His eyes lit up like it was the magic lamp itself. He signed it for me, and it's still one of my most treasured possessions," Rivera continued while tearing up. "Gilbert was really kind and sweet, and surprisingly soft-spoken. And I know that he will be deeply missed by his friends and his fans."
"The Gottfried family posted on social media, 'Although today is a very sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible to honor Gilbert,'" said the actor before finishing his tribute. "So on behalf of the entire company here at Aladdin, Mr. Gottfried, thank you for the laughs."
Following Gottfried's death on Tuesday, his friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz told PEOPLE in a statement, "Beloved and iconic comedian Gilbert Gottfried passed away at 2:35 p.m. ET on April 12, 2022, from recurrent ventricular tachycardia due to myotonic dystrophy type II."
RELATED: Jonathan Freeman, Aladdin's Jafar, Remembers His 'Partner' Gilbert Gottfried: 'Breaks My Heart'
On Wednesday, actor Jonathan Freeman — who voiced villain Jafar in 1992's Aladdin — spoke to PEOPLE about his friendship with Gottfried. While they began their relationship as mere colleagues, the comedic pair launched into a friendship "between two of Disney's most delicious villains" that lasted 31 years. "Losing a partner is never easy. It breaks my heart," said Freeman. "Gilbert will be greatly missed. Jafar said it best… 'I love the way your foul little mind works!'"