George Carlin today has his own space on the wall of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and it’s because you wanted to “Recognize” him there.
The Smithsonian held an online vote last month among three nominees to hang a comedian’s portrait on the museum’s “Recognize” wall — Carlin, Ellen DeGeneres or Groucho Marx — and voters picked Carlin for the honor. All three comedian portraits already exist in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery collection, but only Carlin’s made it to the special wall based on the online votes.
The caption of the portrait (seen above) reads: (George Carlin (1937–2008) by Arthur Grace (b. 1947), gelatin silver print, 1990 (printed 2010). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution © Arthur Grace NPG.2010.34)
My dad was a sentimental fool.
And so, when some of dad’s fans commented to me that he would think the hanging of his portrait today in the National Portrait Gallery would have made him laugh, or even bothered him, I had to tell them that they were dead wrong. Dad would have gotten a huge thrill out of it.
He would have relished the fact that his likeness—this latch-key kid from the rough-and-tumble Upper Westside of Manhattan, this man who made the world laugh with fart jokes, this man who dissected the English language to reveal our human folly, this man who was kicked out of every institution he was ever a member of—would be gracing the walls shared by presidents, world leaders, and other Americans of significance. It might have even brought a tear to his eye.
To celebrate, The George Carlin Estate has relaunched the comedian’s website at GeorgeCarlin.com.
The website already includes video clips from each of Carlin’s 14 HBO specials, plus interviews, rare photos, memorabilia and more. Actual quotes of his will refresh in rotation on the homepage. New to the site: Unreleased audio recordings from live Carlin performances over more than 50 years.
To start, here’s some audio from two parts of Carlin’s infamous performance at Milwaukee’s Summerfest in July 1972 where he was arrested for obscenity after performing his famous “Seven Dirty Words” routine in public.
Kelly Carlin, George’s daughter, previously spoke with The Comic’s Comic about unearthing and curating her father’s rare keepsakes. She’ll be hosting a special April 1 rebroadcast of George Carlin’s first HBO special on SiriusXM radio.