Comedian Ralphie May Dies At 45
Comedian Ralphie May, known for being brash, bawdy and obese, was found dead Friday in a Las Vegas home. He was 45.
May’s publicist Stacey Pokluda, who said the comic had been fighting pneumonia in recent weeks and had been forced to cancel some shows, died of cardiac arrest.
Only days ago, May was named comedian of the year at the Global Gaming Expo.
“Wow… I’m truly saddened by this,” tweeted Kevin Hart. “He was a good dude. Heaven just got another funny angel.”
On social media, Bob Saget remembered May as “funny and sweet” and Larry The Cable Guy described him as “one of the nicest and kindest out there.”
Marc Maron said May was a “comic warrior.”
Calling him a “sweet guy,” Jim Gaffigan tweeted: “He loved doing stand up and loved comedians.”
Ken Jeong shared: “This hurts too much. Thank you for all the love you have given me. Thank you for everything.”
Born in Tennessee and raised in Arkansas, May was 18 when he won the chance to open for Sam Kinison. This helped him find work on both sides of the camera in Los Angeles.
He finished second on Last Comic Standing and appeared on The Tonight Show before starring in his own stand-up specials (including the recent Netflix show Unruly) and recording several comedy albums.
May’s life was dotted with near-death experiences.
A car accident in his 20s put him in a coma with 42 broken bones and, in 2011, he was hospitalized in Florida with double pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism. Two years later, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I had to stay awake in ICU for 11 days. That f***s your mind up,” he recalled in an interview last year with Pop Goes The News (a website owned by this writer). “It was like I was drowning for 11 days in my own fluids and infection. I couldn’t breathe.
“I had to stay awake to breathe every breath, so I was sleep deprived. I had to be restrained. I broke with reality.”
May, who struggled with substance abuse during his life, contemplated ending it all.
“For a couple of years my plan was to make enough money to make sure that my kids are okay and then just kill myself,” he admitted. “I was miserable.
“Now, it’s like I want to see them do everything. I want to stay alive forever now.”
May, who attributed his weight to “genetics and a roll of the dice,” insisted last year that he was healthy.
“I’m fortunate not to have a fatty or enlarged heart,” he said. “I’m amazingly fortunate not to have a fatty or enlarged liver. I don’t have diabetes, I don’t have high blood pressure, I don’t have high cholesterol.”
May said he was losing weight and, except for marijuana, was “substance-free.”.
May leaves daughter April and son August — his children with ex-wife Lahna Turner. She filed for divorce in October 2015 after 10 years of marriage.
In his interview with Pop Goes The News, May recalled how Turner was convinced he was going to die.
“The doctors said just the opposite but she didn’t believe the doctors,” he said. “When someone that you love tells you that over and over and over again you can’t be around them and it makes you miserable.”