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 passed away in 2014. Click through to see people who passed away 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 4:51 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Singer George Hamilton IV died at a Nashville hospital following a heart attack. He was 77.
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died. He was 88.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain "Jaws," died at age 74 in a California hospital.
updated 4:56 PM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Actress Molly Glynn, who played an emergency room doctor on several "Chicago Fire" episodes, died from injuries after a tree fell on her during a storm.
S. Truett Cathy, the fast-food entrepreneur who turned a single restaurant into the multibillion-dollar Chick-fil-A empire, has died at age 93.
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Sat September 6, 2014
Simone Battle, an "X Factor" finalist and G.R.L. singer, was found dead in a Los Angeles home, a coroner's spokesman said. She was 25.
updated 10:26 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy "can we talk" persona catapulted her into a career as a talk-show host, author and red-carpet maven, has died.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Jimi Jamison, who belted out the hits "The Search is Over" and "Burning Heart" for 1980s rock band Survivor, has died. He was 63.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
CNN lost a much loved and respected colleague with the sudden passing of photojournalist Sarmad Qaseera.
updated 3:54 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough has died at 90, the actor's agent said.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
The founder of the University of Phoenix, Dr. John G. Sperling, has died. He was 93.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Don Pardo, the announcer whose velvety baritone voice introduced "Saturday Night Live" hosts on NBC for decades, has died at age 96.
updated 3:34 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Jim Jeffords, who shifted the balance of power in the Senate when he bolted from the Republican Party in 2001, died at age 80.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Former Z-Boys skater Jay Adams died after a heart attack while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Actress Arlene Martel, who "Star Trek" fans know as Spock's bride-to-be, died of complications from a heart attack. Martel was 78.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place," has died at 85.
updated 11:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Actress Lauren Bacall, known for her distinctive, husky voice and sultry sensuality, has died at age 89.
ADVERTISEMENT