Skip to main content

Standup comic John Pinette dead at 50; acted in 'Seinfeld' finale

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
John Pinette performed as part of
John Pinette performed as part of "CMT Presents Ron White's Comedy Salute to the Troops" in February 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Addiction "took a toll," but Pinette was "clean and sober" at the end, manager says
  • His character was carjacked in the "Seinfeld" finale
  • Pinette died of natural causes, official says
  • "He was an extremely funny guy and a great human," Russell Peters says

(CNN) -- Comedian John Pinette was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room Saturday, the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said Monday.

Pinette, 50, died of natural causes stemming from "a medical history he was being treated for," the medical examiner's spokesman said. An autopsy will not be done since his personal doctor signed the death certificate.

Pinette toured the comedy club circuit for more than two decades, but he may be best known for his role in the series finale of "Seinfeld" in 1998. His character, Howie, was a carjacking victim in the last episode.

Although past addiction problems "took a toll on his body," Pinette was "clean and sober" at the end, his longtime manager Larry Schapiro said Monday.

Pinette, who once weighed 450 pounds, slimmed to 250 pounds in the past two years. His dramatic weight loss was the subject of a new comedy set he was developing that he titled "They Call Me Slim," Schapiro said.

His manager shared his opening line: "You know how they say in every fat person there's a skinny person waiting to come out? Well, mine came out, and mine was fat."

Click through to see people who died in 2014. Click through to see people who died in 2014.
People we lost in 2014
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: People we lost in 2014 Photos: People we lost in 2014

Pinette was in college working on an accounting degree when he started performing at open mic nights at Boston comedy clubs in the 1980s, Schapiro said. He was working at a bank when he was offered $100 a night to perform at a club.

"He went to work the next day but went to lunch and never came back," Schapiro said.

He had a reputation among his friends and fellow comedians as a brilliant, incredibly funny and kind man.

"He couldn't walk past a homeless person without giving them a $20," Schapiro said. "He would say, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' "

Comedians who knew and toured with Pinette expressed their condolences through Twitter.

"He was an extremely funny guy and a great human," Russell Peters said.

Bob Saget wrote, "Funny man. Kind man."

Dane Cook posted that he did a film with Pinette. "He was one of the most generous people I've ever worked with. A hilarious comedian. Sad loss."

"A headliner both on an off stage," Bill Burr said. "Such a great man. Truly inspirational."

"I was so lucky to work so many gigs with John Pinette who was as kind as he was funny," wrote Caroline Rhea. "So very sad for his family. Way too young."

People we lost in 2014

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:59 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 7:57 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
Roberto Gomez Bolanos gained fame as a comedian, but he was also a writer, actor, screenwriter, songwriter, film director and TV producer.
updated 10:49 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
P.D. James, the British novelist renowned for her crime novels featuring detective Adam Dalgliesh as well as such works as "The Children of Men," has died at age 94.
updated 3:38 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A file picture taken on August 20, 2001 shows Lebanese popular singer Sabah displaying her medal after being honored at the opening of the 7th Cairo International Song festival in Cairo. Famed Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, whose seven-decade career made her one of the Arab world's best-known entertainers, died on November 26, 2014 at the age of 87, state media announced.
Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, died in Beirut. She was 87.
updated 4:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry has died at age 78.
updated 4:56 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Diem Brown, the MTV reality star whose fight against cancer was an inspiration to many, lost that long battle on Friday. She was 32.
updated 6:40 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Mike Nichols, the award-winning director and pioneering comedian who was one of the few people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award, has died at 83.
updated 9:13 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Jimmy Ruffin, silky-voiced singer of the Motown classic "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," died in Las Vegas at 78.
updated 2:04 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Prolific television producer Glen Larson passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer. He produced many popular shows, including "Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Galactica."
updated 4:56 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Diem Brown, the MTV reality star whose fight against cancer was an inspiration to many, lost that long battle at the age of 32.
updated 9:24 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne -- the first and, even now, only woman to lead that city -- has died.
updated 6:12 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
Actress Carol Ann Susi, whose brash Brooklyn accent reverberated on the hit television series "The Big Bang Theory," has died after a battle with cancer.
updated 10:35 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
A member of the Sugarhill Gang, whose pioneering hit "Rapper's Delight" brought hip hop to mainstream audiences 35 years ago, died at age 57.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Tom Magliozzi, half of the "Click and Clack" team of brothers who hosted NPR's "Car Talk" radio show, died at age 77.
updated 9:12 AM EST, Sun November 2, 2014
Wayne Richard Wells, the frontman and founder of the California metal band Static-X, has died. He was 48.
updated 5:27 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Thomas Menino, who retired this year as the longest-serving mayor in Boston history, has died at 71 after a battle with cancer.
updated 4:22 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Elizabeth Norment, best known for her role as loyal secretary to Kevin Spacey's character on "House of Cards," died of cancer at 61.
ADVERTISEMENT