Rik Mayall is dead. He was 56.
The beloved, once in a generation madcap comic was best known for his breakout role as Rick, the spotty student who inhabited the worst share house in the UK with Neil, Vyvyan and Mike the Cool Person in the 1980s hit UK sitcom The Young Ones.
The cause of Mayall’s death has not yet been released, but his wife Barbara Robbin, who found him dead, told London’s Daily Telegraph she did not know how he had died.
“We don’t know yet what happened. He had a strong heart, so I don’t think it was a heart attack. But we just don’t know until the coroner’s report,” she said.
“Maybe he had a fit, maybe it was his heart. We just don’t know.”
Mayall also had star comic turns in many other iconic British shows, most notably as Lord Flashheart in two series of Blackadder and as ultra-right-wing Conservative backbencher Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman.
He began his career with Young Ones co-star Ade Edmondson at the Comedy Store club in London as part of the Dangerous Brothers duo. The two reunited seven years after The Young Ones ended for another hit series, Bottom, which spawned three series, a feature movie and five stage show tours across the United Kingdom.
Edmondson said of his friend and colleague:
There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing.
They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him.
And now he’s died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.
Here’s some highlights from The People’s Poet:
In 1998, Mayall survived a quad bike accident which fractured his skull. He lay in a coma for five days as doctors considered turning off his life support machine but made a full recovery after showing signs of life.
Other celebrities who shared the stage and screen with Mayall have inundated Twitter with their tributes:
Crossing the Atlantic with wifi. Simply distraught to hear of the death of Rik Mayall. An authentic comedy genius and a prince among men.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) June 9, 2014
So sad that Rik Mayall is dead. The funniest man in the universe when I was growing up (“woof!"); we should have seen so much more from him.
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) June 9, 2014
RIP Rik Mayall. An icon of modern British comedy.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) June 9, 2014
A young girl, stricken with terminal cancer, once asked Rik Mayall for an autograph. He wrote: "Young Ones are never afraid."
— Hugh Laurie (@hughlaurie) June 9, 2014
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