Entertainment

Kevin Meaney, Veteran Stand-Up Comedian and Actor, Dies at 60

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Kevin Meaney, a popular stand-up comedian and actor, was found dead on Friday at his home in Forestburgh, N.Y. He was 60.

Mr. Meaney’s former wife, Mary Ann Halford, confirmed his death. She did not identify a cause.

Mr. Meaney was a headliner on the stand-up comedy circuit beginning in the 1980s and made numerous appearances on late-night television talk shows. He starred in an HBO special in 1986, and appeared the next year on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” the first of more than a dozen appearances on the show, according to his website.

Mr. Meaney appeared in title role of “Uncle Buck,” a sitcom that aired on CBS for one season in 1990. He continued to work on television after the show’s cancellation, appearing on “Saturday Night Live,” the “Late Show With David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “30 Rock” and “2 Broke Girls.”

An energetic live performer with the sensibilities of an old-style entertainer, Mr. Meaney skewered family life, in particular, his mother’s seemingly boundless concern that his actions would cause them to “lose the house,” he recalled.

“Anything in my house could poke an eye out when I was a kid,” he said, adding: “I’d be passing pizza across the table. ‘You’re going to take your brother’s eye out with that slice.’”

He sometimes incorporated music into his act. One signature bit was a lip-synced spoof of the charity hit “We Are the World” in which he impersonated Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder and the other singers who had performed on the song.

Kevin Meaney does “We Are the World” Video by Funnystuffcollector

He later parlayed his singing skills into a role in the Broadway musical “Hairspray.” Ms. Halford said Mr. Meaney’s experience on the show, which he described on his website as “life changing,” prompted a period of self-reflection that led him to realize he was gay.

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The comedian Kevin Meaney in 2004.

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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America

He came out in 2008 while being interviewed on a satellite radio show. His sexual orientation would later figure in some of his stand-up routines.

In one bit, Mr. Meaney, who was raised Catholic, described a request from his mother that he go to confession.

“I told the priest I was gay and it was very difficult to tell him that,” Mr. Meaney said in a video of one of his club shows. “And now we’re dating.”

Mr. Meaney was born in White Plains, N.Y., on April 23, 1956, and grew up in nearby Valhalla, the middle child of five. His father, John, was a firefighter; his mother, Patricia, was a librarian.

In high school, he worked as a waiter at the Knollwood Country Club, where he met a well-known New York radio and television host, Bob Fitzsimmons, who was a club member, Ms. Halford said.

“Bob was Kevin’s inspiration,” she said. “He kept asking Bob how to get into show business.”

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Mr. Meaney performing at the Caroline’s on Broadway 20th Anniversary Comedy Concert at Carnegie Hall in 2003.

Credit
Evan Agostini/Getty Images North America

Mr. Meaney attended a state college in Morrisville, N.Y., before dropping out and moving to San Francisco to pursue a comedy career in the 1980s. At the time, the city was home to a lively comedy scene, and he met comedians like Robin Williams and Dana Carvey, and performed at the influential Holy City Zoo club, Ms. Halford said.

Later, while living in Los Angeles, he met Ms. Halford. They married in 1997 and had a daughter, Kathleen Ann, two years later.

Mr. Meaney and his family moved back to New York from California in 2002 to be closer to relatives, Ms. Halford said. He started working on Broadway soon after. He also continued to perform stand-up across the country at venues of all sizes.

“Comedy clubs, private functions, fund-raisers, PTAs, firehouses, Kevin could do it all,” his agent, Tom Ingegno, said in an interview on Saturday. “ He was just a natural-born performer, the stage was really his home.”

Mr. Meaney was scheduled to perform at B. Pinelli’s in East Providence, R.I., on Saturday night.

The news of his death drew a flood of reactions from his fellow comedians and entertainers.

“I’m heartbroken at the loss of one of the best, kindest people I ever knew,” the writer and producer Lizz Winstead posted on Twitter.

The comedian and actor Patton Oswalt also shared on Twitter that he knew Mr. Meaney as a “brilliant comedian.”

“Then we hung out in Ireland and I found out he was also a terrific person,” Mr. Oswalt wrote.

In addition to Ms. Halford and his daughter, Mr. Meaney is survived by his mother; three brothers, Jack, Tim and Thomas; and a sister, Cathy Meaney Paulsen.

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