Comedian Ralphie May dead at 45

Comedian Ralphie May has died at 45, his representative, Stacey Pokluda, confirmed to USA TODAY.

His body was found Friday morning at a private residence in Las Vegas, where he had a residency at Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

Pokluda said May had performed there Thursday night after having had to cancel several dates to recover from pneumonia, which had plagued him for weeks.

She noted his cause of death was cardiac arrest. That occurs when an electrical problem causes the heart to stop pumping completely. When that happens, oxygenated blood fails to reach the brain, lungs and other organs. (In the last two weeks, rock icon Tom Petty and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner both died as a result of cardiac arrest.)

He mined his obesity for laughs as part of his standup routine. He eventually parlayed a second-place finish in Season 1 of NBC's Last Comic Standing into multiple stand-up specials for Comedy Central and Netflix.

Pokluda noted in her statement that May had just won the Casino Comedian of the Year award at the Global Gaming Expo. His residency at Harrah's Las Vegas was supposed to last through the end of the year.

His manager, Judi Marmel, told USA TODAY he was also working on a new comedy special and had completed his autobiography, This Might Get a Little Heavy, for St. Martin's Press. It's due this spring.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Tributes are coming in from celebrity admirers.

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© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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