Bob Saget, comic who portrayed Danny Tanner in ‘Full House,’ dies at 65
By Jesús Jiménez and Alan Yuhas
Bob Saget, the stand-up comic and actor known as Danny Tanner on “Full House” and the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” was found dead Sunday in Florida. He was 65.
His death was confirmed by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which said Saget was found unresponsive in a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. The cause of death was not known, but the sheriff’s office said there were no signs of foul play or drug use.
Saget, who was on tour, had performed Saturday night at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, southeast of Jacksonville.
In a tweet early Sunday, Saget thanked the “appreciative audience.”
“I had no idea I did a 2 hr set tonight,” he said. “I’m happily addicted again to this.”
On “Full House,” Saget played a widowed father who shared his house with his three daughters, his brother-in-law and his best friend. The show, which aired from 1987 to 1995, propelled Saget and his co-stars — including John Stamos, Lori Loughlin, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — into the realm of household names.
Robert Lane Saget was born May 17, 1956, in Philadelphia. He graduated from Temple University in 1978 before finding his way into comedy clubs. In contrast to his squeaky-clean image on “Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Saget delighted in raunchy, profanity-laden stand-up routines.
At Temple, he studied film, and the year of his graduation, he received a student Academy Award for documentary merit for his film “Through Adam’s Eyes,” about a nephew of his who had undergone facial reconstructive surgery.
But even then, he was already pursuing comedy. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2016 that, at 17, he won a local radio contest by singing a song about bondage, and that although he spent most of his time at Temple shooting film, he would also go to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus to do improv.
After graduating, Saget moved to Los Angeles and quickly made himself a constant presence at The Comedy Store. “I lived in that room for seven years,” he said on comedian Marc Maron’s podcast in 2010.
“I did jokes and some stories, but most of them were just silly, dirty silly,” he remembered. He said he was drawn to jokes with foul language and anatomy because he wasn’t supposed to talk that way in his youth. “I stayed like a kid who just talked silly,” he said.
He added, deadpan and possibly sincere, “I don’t curse for the sake of cursing, that’s the actual truth.”
After a brief stint on a CBS show, “The Morning Program,” Saget appeared in a 1987 Richard Pryor film, “Critical Condition.” He then was offered the part on “Full House.” He later joked with Maron, “My joke is, ‘Ask me my favorite episode.’ ”
“What’s your favorite episode?” Maron played along.
“The last one,” Saget said. Almost immediately, he added, “I’m the luckiest guy.”
Saget became the first host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in 1989, and although most of his commentary was in line with the character he played on “Full House” — funny voices and groan-inducing puns — his mordant wit sometimes slipped in.
In a statement Sunday night, the Saget family said it was “devastated” to confirm his death.
“He was everything to us and we want you to know how much he loved his fans, performing live and bringing people from all walks of life together with laughter,” the family said.
Survivors include his wife, Kelly Rizzo, and three daughters from an earlier marriage, Aubrey Saget, Lara Melanie Saget and Jennifer Belle Saget.
In a tweet posted Sunday night, Stamos, who played Jesse Katsopolis on “Full House,” said he was “broken” and “gutted.”
“I am in complete and utter shock,” he said. “I will never ever have another friend like him. I love you so much Bobby.”
After “Full House” ended, Saget directed a television movie, “For Hope,” which fictionalized the story of how his sister, Gay, grew ill and died of systemic scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that can lead to hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. (He later became a board member of the Scleroderma Research Foundation.) He also directed a comedy starring Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange, “Dirty Work,” which was widely panned on its release in 1998.
Returning to the comedy circuit and mocking his wholesome TV alter ego, Saget developed a cult following as a comedian who could unleash torrents of scatological material. In 2010, he hosted a documentary series, “Strange Days With Bob Saget,” in which he spent time with pro wrestlers, bikers, Bigfoot hunters and others.
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in 2017, Saget remembered how Don Rickles, a longtime friend of his and Stamos’, would describe Saget’s act. “He comes out like a Jewish Clark Kent,” Saget recalled Rickles as saying. He then demonstrated how his friend would break into a song about a dog and a monkey, repeatedly using a verb censored on network television.
But Saget never totally relinquished his family man persona: He voiced the narrator of “How I Met Your Mother,” an older, wiser version of the show’s protagonist, Ted Mosby.
“My first thought was, Why can’t he do it? Or how much cigarettes and booze do you have to have to sound like me?” Saget told Larry King in 2014, referring to Josh Radnor, the actor who played Ted. But, he added, “I did it immediately because I read it. It was a love letter; it was a relationship show.”