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article imageAflac fires actor Gilbert Gottfried over tasteless tsunami tweets

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By Kim I. Hartman     Mar 15, 2011 in Business
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, well known for his high pitched duck-like voice-overs for the insurance firm Aflac, has been fired by the company after posting a slew of tasteless Japanese earthquake jokes and tsunami comments on his Twitter account.
Aflac announced on Monday "that it has severed ties with comedian Gilbert Gottfried," who has been the voice of the famous duck mascot since 2000. Gottfried was featured on television and radio advertisement calling out the ducks trademark word 'Aflacccc.'
Gottfried, a former Saturday Night Live cast-member who also co-starred in Problem Child and was the voice of the parrot in the Disney movie "Aladdin", is known for his off-color comments and humor, as well as his annoying and grating tone of voice, according to Wikipedia.
Gilbert Gottfried at the 1991 Emmy Awards
Gilbert Gottfried at the 1991 Emmy Awards
Alan Light
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Following the devastating earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami, Gottfried took to his Twitter account, '#RealGilbert' and begin firing one-liners and graphic comments about the Japanese people and the crises in Japan as well as a slew of racist comments.
Many of the Twitter comments included vulgar language and sexual innuendo. Some of the milder comments included:
I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, "They'll be another one floating by any minute now."
I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said "is there a school in this area." She said "not now, but just wait."
Japan had put out this urgent plea...." PLEASE SEND US A FEW BIlLION RUBBER DUCKIES!!!!!"
Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them.
What do the Japanese have in common with @howardstern? They're both radio active.
In a prepared statement posted on their corporate website, the world-wide insurer made it clear that Gottfried is not the voice of the Aflac Duck in Japan.
Aflac Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said:
"Gilbert's recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac. Aflac Japan - and, by extension, Japan itself - is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.Aflac will immediately set plans in motion to conduct a nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic Aflac Duck. "
Aflac also announced yesterday that its "operations in Japan are up and running and ready to assist policyholders following the recent earthquake in the Tohoku area, which includes the cities of Sendai and Minami Sanriku."
"Aflac is the largest insurer in Japan based on policies in force," said the corporation.
Friday, the day the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, Aflac was one of the first corporations who came to the aid of the Japanese people by "pledging 100 million yen to the International Red Cross to assist with their disaster relief efforts in Japan.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people during this very difficult time," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "We stand ready to assist in the healing process and are pledging these funds to ensure that basic needs are cared for during this crisis."
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