George Carlin Net Worth

How much was George Carlin worth?

Net Worth:$10 Million
Profession:Professional Comedian
Date of Birth:May 12, 1937 (aged 71)
Country:United States of America
5 ft 8 in (1.74 m)

About George Carlin

Practically defining the term “edgy,” Carlin pushed the limits of what comedy could be. His material was often political, and as the master of “sociological” comedy, he helped define modern stand-up. He called attention to the things people take for granted, pointing out hypocrisies in human behavior and commonly held views. He used language, dissecting its meaning and eventually became a social critic, as well as one of the influential comedians of his era.

American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and social critic George Carlin had an estimated net worth of $10 million dollars, at the time of his death in 2008. Dubbed “the dean of counterculture comedians” Carlin is considered one of the most influential comedians of his era.

George was born in Manhattan in 1937, to Mary (née Bearey), a secretary, and Patrick John Carlin, an advertising manager for The Sun. Carlin’s maternal grandfather was Dennis Bearey, who wrote out the works of William Shakespeare by hand just for fun. George’s father was born in Ireland and his mother was Irish-American. He was raised Roman Catholic primarily by his mother after his parents divorced when he was two months old.

George was often left by himself as his mother worked long hours, he was reportedly rebellious but by his own words the time spent alone provided him with time to think and practice his impersonations. He soon dropped out of school at age 14 and after working odd jobs joined the Air Force and trained as a radar technician. While he was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, he began working as a disc jockey at radio station KJOE in nearby Shreveport. Then in 1960, together with fellow comic Jack Burns he formed a comedy duo.

While the pair worked together for two years finally releasing an album, Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, in 1962, George decided to pursue a solo career. His first solo album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, was released in 1966 and during that time he appeared in a jacket and tie during numerous television appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show, among others. His solo act far outperformed anything he had previously tried and by the late 1960s, Carlin was earning a reported $250,000 annually, or over $2 million in today’s dollars.

Being an air enthusiast, he bought a twin-engine Aero Commander 1121 Jet Commander and even hired pilots to fly him to the different states as he went on tour. As his act entered the ’70s, everything changed. He dropped his straight-laced look that he had developed in the ’60s, trading it in for a long hair hippie look that matched his new content as he began attacking institutions including the government and organized religion.

Carlin’s most famous routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” which challenged what he considered to be the arbitrary nature of censorship, got him arrested on charges of obscenity after a Milwaukee performance in 1972. While the case was eventually thrown out, it was an important tipping point in his career as he became increasingly more popular with young audiences and his work also played a significant role in a U.S. Supreme Court case that ultimately upheld the FCC’s ability to regulate “indecent” programming on public airwaves.

By the mid-’70s, George Carlin was already a counterculture icon but soon disappeared away from the fame making only infrequent appearances. While not much is known about this time in Carlin’s life, he resurfaced with his first two HBO specials, Carlin at USC and George Carlin: Again! in 1977 and 1978. However, it is considered that his time developing his bits, which reportedly included periods of heavy cocaine use, led to his first heart attack.

All the same, in 1981, Carlin was back and in better comedic shape than ever. He released his album A Place for My Stuff and his HBO special, Carlin at Carnegie, in ’81 and ’82. He had kicked his cocaine habit and was suddenly producing consistently, releasing an album or HBO special almost every year. Through the ’80s and in the ’90s and 2000s, Carlin also began appearing in film and on television. He played supporting roles in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and comedies like Outrageous Fortune, as well as appeared in dramas like Jersey Girl and The Prince of Tides. Most famously, he played the role Rufus, the time-traveling guide in the two Bill and Ted films. He also voiced characters in children’s programs, including voicing a character on Thomas the Tank Engine, and played the role of Mr. Conductor for two seasons on the PBS show Shining Time Station. Between the years of 1993 and 1995, he had his own sitcom The George Carlin Show, on FOX.

In 2001, Carlin was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 15th Annual Comedy Awards. While Carlin was well upon the surface, he continued to suffer heart problems. In total, he survived three heart attacks but was eventually admitted to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, just months after his HBO stand-up special, It’s Bad for Ya, aired in 2008. While only complaining of chest pains, he died later that same day, June 22, 2008, of heart failure at 71 years old.

Carlin’s Total Net Worth

In the late 1960s, Carlin was reportedly earning around $250,000 annually, a number that declined in the ’70s as he sunk into a period of reputed heavy drug use and suffered his first heart attack. In the ’80s he came back better than ever and continued to release new albums and make appearances until the year of his death in 2008. In total, George Carlin has earned estimated total career income of $24 million dollars.

Of that amount, around $2 million is expected to have been paid in business related costs. The remainder, $22 million, will have been taxed at a rate of around 59% as Carlin had been residing between the states of California and New York and earned substantial sums through high tax years. After tax, it is estimated that his career earnings are at around $9.02 million dollars, having paid $12.98 million dollars in taxes.

George Carlin married Brenda Hosbrook in 1961 and they divorced 36 years later, in 1997. They had one child together, Kelly Carlin, and as part of a divorce settlement it is estimated that around $1 million dollars was paid to Brenda. George later married Sally Wade in 1998 and the remained together until George’s death 10 years later, in 2008.

In his personal life, George likely spent $3-5 million dollars of his career earnings but also probably possessed assets valued at around $1 million, not including investment assets. In his investments, he may have earned investment returns of $5-6 million dollars. Therefore, it is estimated that George Carlin had a net worth of around $10 million dollars.


Carlin’s career had him earning a quarter of a million dollars per year in the late ’60s, and after a short hiatus in the ’70s, he became one of the most popular stand-up comedians on the 1980s. He continued to solve bits and come out with some of the funniest routines in history, making appearances until the year of his death in 2008.

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