Comedian John Pinette, 50, dies in Pittsburgh hotel


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Stand-up comedian John Pinette, 50, widely known for his role in the finale of the TV show "Seinfeld," was found dead in his room Saturday at the Sheraton Station Square hotel.

Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said Sunday that a relative was concerned after not hearing from Mr. Pinette for an extended period and contacted security at the hotel.

Mr. Pinette was in Pittsburgh for a family function, Ms. Toler said. She declined to discuss details of the function.

Comedian remembered for 'Seinfeld' finale

Stand-up comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in his room Saturday at the Sheraton Station Square hotel. Apart from his standup routines, he was known for his role in the finale of the TV show "Seinfeld." (4/7/2014)

The hotel's security detail opened Mr. Pinette's room for the relative, where they found him and called city police.

The comedian was pronounced dead at the scene around 2:30 p.m.

A supervisor with the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said Mr. Pinette had been suffering liver and heart disease and that his death was due to natural causes. No autopsy was performed, after Mr. Pinette's personal physician signed off on the cause of death.

Mr. Pinette, a native of Boston, was known for his impressions and his self-deprecating pokes at his weight. He reportedly had to delay a series of performances in August to undergo treatment in a rehabilitation facility for prescription drug addiction.

Reached in Los Angeles, Larry Schapiro, Mr. Pinette's personal manager for 24 years, described the comedian as "the funniest ... kindest human being that ever lived."

Mr. Schapiro said Mr. Pinette had reached more than 400 pounds before beginning a serious weight-loss regimen and that he was almost 200 pounds lighter when he died.

"John had become a sober person," Mr. Schapiro said. "The sadness of this entire event is that for the first time in his life he was healthy, he was alive. He'd just turned 50 and John was on top of his game."

Mr. Pinette was working on a new one-man show "They Call Me Slim" at the time of his death. Mr. Schapiro described the new material as "groundbreaking," and said Mr. Pinette was maturing as an artist and exploring bringing deeper, more personal issues to the stage.

The comedian had performed in such films as "Duets," "Dear God," "The Punisher" and "Junior." His most recent hourlong stand-up special "Still Hungry" premiered in 2011.

In the "Seinfeld" finale Mr. Pinette played the role of Howie, a victim of a carjacking. Characters Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer videotape the carjacking and mock Howie in the process, and end up being charged with violating the Good Samaritan Law.

According to his Facebook page, Mr. Pinette was in the middle of touring, and was scheduled to perform Thursday at a comedy club in Ontario, Calif.


Clarece Polke: cpolke@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1889 or on Twitter @clarepolke. First Published April 6, 2014 5:02 PM


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