George Carlin is one of the most influential comedians of all time. Throughout his career, he often spoke truth to power with hilarity and authority. His most well-known piece came in 1972, when he performed “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television,” a hilarious list of dirty words, which courted controversy. Throughout his early career, he was married to Brenda Hosbrook, whom he had his only child Kelly with, in 1963. As the comic’s only daughter, Kelly has been a strong proponent for preserving her dad’s legacy. Find out everything you need to know about her here!
Kelly was born in 1963
Kelly is the only child that George and Brenda had during their 36-year marriage. She was born in Brenda’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio two years after the couple tied the knot. George recalled that their daughter was born as Brenda’s mother was battling cancer in his book Last Words. He said that early on in Kelly’s life, he was still a struggling comedian, and the family struggled financially.
She’s been married twice
Throughout her life, Kelly has been married twice. Her first marriage was to a mechanic named Andrew Sutton in 1985. Kelly reflected a little bit on the wedding, sharing a photo in a tweet in May 2020. “Yes, the hair is FAB. I’m 10 ft. to the left of my own body,” she joked. Kelly later called the marriage a “chaotic situation” in a 2017 interview with In-Sight Publishing.
Her second marriage was to Robert McCall in 1998, and the pair have been together ever since. Bob has also been a writing partner for her, according to Vanity Fair.
She’s performed in a one-woman show
While George was a prolific comedian, Kelly opened up about their home life in a show called The Carlin Home Companion, playing on A Prairie Home Companion. The show was also the basis for her memoir of the same name, which was released in 2015. “When you’re the kid of someone everyone knows; when you’re sitting backstage and people are chanting your dad’s name, there is something about the importance of telling my story out loud. I feel like my business is finished with this book. I really feel so done with my origin story,” she told Vanity Fair in a 2015 interview.
She’s been open about her parents’ drug and alcohol use
Kelly has spoken out about some of the negative experiences she had during her childhood due to her parents’ drug use. Kelly recalled writing up a “treaty” for George and Brenda to sign while on a vacation in Hawaii in the 70s in The Carlin Home Companion. She said both parents broke the agreement quickly. “I spent the rest of the vacation as far away from them as I could,” she told NPR in a 2015 interview.
George has also spoken about how his substance abuse hurt his relationship with Kelly. He wrote about an instance where an interviewer asked his daughter’s age, and he said that he couldn’t remember it, in his posthumously published memoir Last Words. “Kelly often ended up being the arbitrator between us,” he wrote, while recalling the Hawaii trip in his own book.
Kelly has continued to honor her dad’s legacy
While some of the stories in her memoir may not be all positive experiences from growing up, Kelly has continued to be an important figure in the comedy world and has celebrated her dad’s work on many occasions. She appeared in the new documentary George Carlin’s American Dream, which chronicles the comic’s life and impact. She’s also helped weigh in on what her dad’s values were in interviews. When a joke about vaccines from George’s 1999 special You Are All Diseased went viral by anti-vaxxers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly pushed back. “And I’m like, no. My dad was pro-science, pro-rational thinking, pro-evidence-based medicine. The man was a heart patient for 30 years. When he was a kid and the polio vaccine became available, he got the polio vaccine,” she told The New York Times in 2022.
While so much has happened in the years since George passed in 2008 at age 71, Kelly has speculated on what her dad would make of the world as it is now. “He would have schooled us on both sides and come up with a third-way truth that would have blown our minds,” she told The Times.