George Carlin was a struggling comedian when he met his first wife, Brenda. She supported his career but had to stay home to raise their daughter. Since he was always looking for high-paying gigs, they fought over the money a lot, with their daughter acting as a referee.
Years after his death, George Carlin remains one of the most memorable names in comedy. He was married twice, his first marriage lasting 36 years and the second a decade. The comedian met his first wife, Brenda Hosbrook, early in his career while on tour with his partner, Jack Burns.
They married in Daytona in 1961. After walking down the aisle, Brenda became active in her husband’s career, even collaborating with him on his comedy specials. She later took credit as producer of many Carlin classics.
Comedian George Carlin on January 1, 1989 | Source: Getty Images
Two years after their marriage, they welcomed their only child together, Kelly. Over the years, the comedian was so busy with work that he couldn’t afford to spend time with his daughter.
On the other hand, Brenda loved being a mother, but she knew she was so much more than that. She never really adapted to the traditional role of housewife because she had too much intelligence and spark in her for that.
Having previously worked with her husband, she resented agents and managers now shaping her husband’s career when she had to stay home and chase after her energetic toddler. She continued to support Carlin’s career, however.
Several gigs here and there landed Carlin at the Copacabana in New York, where he was fired soon after. He was hired to open for the Supremes in Las Vegas for twelve thousand dollars a week.
He was making more money than he had ever had, enough to fulfill his American dream. The money was enough to put down a down payment on a nice house in the San Fernando Valley, which Brenda wanted.
However, during his first performance, he used explicit language and got fired, and just like that, his American dream and his wife’s dream house remained just that – a dream.
Things suddenly started going south. Carlin and Brenda’s fights over money grew increasingly heated, and Kelly, an only child, couldn’t ignore what was going on.
As arguments between her parents continued, Kelly often ended up being the referee between them and mysteriously began sleeping on the floor in the hallway in the middle of the night.
Kelly’s sudden change in behavior troubled Carlin, but there was nothing he could do about it except try to create more time to be with his daughter. However, his career was so demanding that he would be away from home for two to three weeks at a time.
Comedian George Carlin on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” March 12, 1989 | Source: Getty Images
Kelly would later reveal that Carlin and Brenda’s marriage was marred by fights and struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. It lasted 36 years until Brenda died in 1997 aged 57, after battling liver cancer.
Pug Finds Love Again
When he met Sally Wade six months later, Carlin was still mourning his wife’s death. According to his posthumously published autobiography “Last Words”, it was love at first sight for comics. They married in 1998.
According to IMDb, Wade is also in the entertainment industry. His work credits include writing episodes for “E/R” and “What’s Happening.” According to her author biography, she also wrote for George Clooney and The Beach Boys.
Comedian George Carlin and wife Sally Wade attend the premiere of the film ‘Jersey Girl’ on March 9, 2004 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Speaking about his marriage to the legendary comedian, Wade shared that Carlin was and always will be the greatest love of his life and soul mate. Sadly, Carlin passed away just days before celebrating their tenth anniversary.
After her disappearance, Wade wrote about how devastating her death had been in his book “The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade”, a chronicle of their love affair.
KEEPING PUG’S LEGACY ALIVE
Following her father’s death, Kelly revealed details about Carlin, the man who revolutionized the idea of stand-up as social commentary.
Kelly Carlin poses in the press room with the award for Best Comedy Album by George Carlin at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards held at Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
A memoir writer and successful podcast host, Kelly opened up about her relationship with her father, saying they loved each other and had a deep connection.
She considers venturing into comedy an honor for her father, even if he was against it. Despite Carlin, who was dubbed the doyen of counterculture comedians, succeeding through humor, he disapproved of his daughter following in his footsteps.
However, comedy isn’t just a world Kelly was born into. She thinks she was born for this. Although she doesn’t perform live, she enjoys hosting her “Waking From The American Dream” podcast.
Kelly Carlin attends the Los Angeles premiere of HBO’s American Dream of George Carlin at Avalon Hollywood & Bardot on May 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
She also has a show on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy channel, where she interviews some of her most adored comedic idols, including Eddie Izzard. Jen Kirkman, whom Kelly loved because she didn’t ask permission to be who she is, was also one of her guests on the show.
After her father’s death, Kelly was asked to perform on a comedy cruise, where she told stories about her family and her life. People loved it and someone suggested they take it on the road.
However, Kelly didn’t want to be the person going around the country talking about her father. She tried as hard as she could to pave her way and not live in her father’s shadow.
“I felt like I was stepping out of the shadows of that, but I didn’t know if that was how I wanted to deal with being his daughter. Or, I thought, it could be an incredibly powerful play. , making this (my) journey and keeping my father’s legacy alive.” She shared.
Comedian George Carlin attends the premiere of the film ‘Jersey Girl’ on March 9, 2004 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Years after her disappearance, Kelly keeps her memories and legacy alive through her memoir about her. His personal and artistic evolution is also captured in the HBO documentary “George Carlin’s American Dream”.
Carlin’s legacy remains immortalized by present-day comics such as Bill Maher. He invoked Carlin, his hero, during the closing monologue of a recent episode of his HBO talk show.
Maher thinks Carlin, who used his withering insight and gleefully profane vocabulary to take aim at American hypocrisy, could never thrive in such a thin, overly authoritative era.