Louis Anderson (March 24, 1953 – January 21, 2022) was a stand-up comedian, actor, author, and game show presenter from the United States. Anderson developed the cartoon series Life with Louie and penned four books, the most recent of which is Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too, which was released in 2018. From 1999 to 2002, he hosted the third iteration of the game program Family Feud.
Anderson was nominated three times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in the FX comedy television series Baskets, and he won once in 2016.
From 2003 through 2012, Anderson performed a stand-up act in Las Vegas called Louie: Larger Than Life. The event began in the Union Plaza Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and then moved to the Excalibur, South Point, and Palace Station hotels.
Anderson was born and reared in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the son of Mayflower descendant Ora Z. (née Prouty) and Louis William Anderson.
His father was a trumpet player for Hoagy Carmichael, a vocalist. Anderson was the second youngest of 11 siblings. Anderson claimed in a 2016 interview with Marc Maron on WTF that his mother had 16 children, but five of them—the first baby and two sets of twins—died at delivery. Anderson characterized his father as an alcoholic and “abusive.” Anderson attended Saint Paul’s Johnson Senior High School.
Anderson made his television debut on HBO’s Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians Special on January 13, 1984. Anderson made his television debut as a comic on The Tonight Show on November 20, 1984.
Anderson was cast with Bronson Pinchot as Lou Appleton in the pilot episode of ABC’s Perfect Strangers in late 1985. (which was known in this early stage as The Greenhorn). When the program was picked up, Anderson was replaced in the character of Appleton by Mark Linn-Baker (whose first name was subsequently changed from Lou to Larry), since the producers didn’t believe Anderson and Pinchot had the correct chemistry. On ABC, the program aired for eight seasons. Anderson appeared in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in a brief cameo in the singing-telegram sequence in 1986. Anderson made his Showtime debut in a comedy special in 1987.
Anderson appeared in John Landis’ film Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, in 1988, and repeated his character in the 2021 sequel. Anderson also acted in The Wrong Guys, a kitsch comedy based on a John Hughes tale released in 1988.
Anderson appeared in the debut episode of The Jim Henson Hour’s Muppet Television segment in 1989. In 1995, Anderson devised and produced Life with Louie, a Saturday morning cartoon comedy for Fox.
Anderson’s upbringing was shown in the series, which had ten siblings, a sweet-hearted mother, and a noisy, war-crazed father. It also highlighted how he was teased because of his weight and how he dealt with it via humor. The program was a 3-year Fox smash that earned two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.
Anderson produced and starred in CBS’ The Louie Show in 1996. Anderson portrayed a psychotherapist in Duluth, Minnesota in the program. The program lasted six episodes before being canceled. Anderson was hired as the presenter of the new Family Feud in 1999.
Anderson requested that previous Feud presenter Richard Dawson come on the debut episode to offer his approval, but Dawson rejected. Anderson created a 9/11-themed Family Feud tournament week between the FDNY and the NYPD, donating $75,000 to both organizations in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In 2002, Anderson was fired from the program, and Richard Karn took his place. Anderson participated as a panelist on a John O’Hurley-hosted episode of, To Tell the Truth in 2000. Anderson won $31,000 on an episode of Weakest Link in 2001. He had roles in Scrubs, Grace Under Fire, Touched by an Angel (Then Sings My Soul, November 28, 1999), and Chicago Hope on network television. He had a cameo appearance on the Adult Swim episode Tom Goes to the Mayor. Anderson competed in the main event of the 2006 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Anderson recorded a stand-up special called Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer in 2012. Anderson made fun of his lousy habits, annoying family members, and aging physique in it.
Anderson starred in the ABC reality show Splash in 2013. He required aid from Ndamukong Suh, a co-star football player, to get out of the water after practicing many dives and almost drowning.
Anderson became the promotional ambassador for Land O’Lakes Sweet Cream butter from his native state in October 2014. Anderson promoted the product with radio jingles, online advertisements, and television commercials. Anderson starred as Christine Baskets in the FX comedy series Baskets from 2016 to 2019.
In 2016, Anderson received a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Christine Baskets.
Anderson faced Christina Milian, a singer/actress, on an episode of Celebrity Family Feud (presented by Steve Harvey today). This made him one of just a few people to have hosted and competed on the same game show, and it was also his first appearance on any iteration of Family Feud since stepping down as host in 2002. From September 2018 through the end of the program’s run in 2020, Anderson was a frequent panelist on the TV game show Funny You Should Ask.
Dennis Miller was his name “one of the funniest people I know… I’m just going to leave my dressing room early to observe a couple of men… With a broken leg, (Louie) takes a Fred Astaire approach. He was agile and didn’t pound home points, but he did a ‘weave-back’ that was almost Pulp Fiction-esque.”
Anderson married his high-school girlfriend in 1985. The union lasted barely four weeks.
Incident of extortion
Richard John Gordon blackmailed Anderson in 1997. Gordon threatened to divulge the tabloids that Anderson had sexually propositioned him at a casino in 1993 unless Anderson paid him money.
Anderson paid Gordon $100,000 in hush money between 1997 and 1998, afraid that the story might jeopardize his leading roles in two family-oriented programs; nevertheless, when Gordon’s demands climbed to $250,000 in 2000, Anderson’s lawyer notified federal authorities. Gordon was captured after leading FBI officials on a high-speed pursuit down Santa Monica Boulevard. He was 31 at the time. Gordon was fined and given a 21-month sentence.
Health and Death
Anderson got two successful cardiac surgeries in 2003. Anderson was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital for big B-cell lymphoma on January 18, 2022. Three days later, on January 21, he died of cancer complications at the age of 68.