Stand-up comedian Ralphie May dies at 45

Posted: October 6, 2017 at 5:50 p.m.

Ralphie May
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Ralphie May

LAS VEGAS — Stand-up comic Ralphie May, who starred in a bevy of memorable comedy specials over the years, has died at 45.

The Arkansas native died Friday in a private residence in Las Vegas after going into cardiac arrest, his representative confirmed to the New York Daily News.

“We are heartbroken to announce the untimely death of our friend, Ralphie May,” his publicist said in a statement. “Ralphie had been battling pneumonia and had canceled a handful of dates over the last month in an effort to recover. Earlier this morning at a private residence in Las Vegas his body was discovered.”

May had a series of performances remaining on his 2017 schedule as part of a Las Vegas residency at Harrah’s. He most recently performed there Thursday night.

May was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., but raised in Clarksville. At 16, he broke 42 bones in his body in an automobile accident. When he was 17 he won a contest to open for comedian Sam Kinison, whom he considered his idol.

Kinison suggested May move to Houston to further develop his comedy routine. May graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment.

May rose to fame in 2003 as a competitor on the first season of Last Comic Standing, finishing second behind Dat Phan.

He went on to book gigs on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and The Wayne Brady Show, while churning out stand-up specials for Comedy Central and later Netflix. He starred in his first Comedy Central special, “Girth of a Nation,” in 2006, before releasing Prime Cut (2007), Austin-tatious (2008) and Too Big to Ignore (2012) in subsequent years.

Both of his Netflix specials, Unruly and Imperfectly Yours, premiered in 2015.

Earlier this week, May was named the Casino Comedian of the Year at the Global Gaming Expo.

May was fondly remembered by many in the comedy community who posted tributes to social media after news of his death emerged.

“Woa … man .. this sucks,” Dane Cook tweeted Friday. “Ralphie was a good guy & very funny person. Condolences to his family and fans.”

Gabriel Iglesias shared his heartbreak after learning of the loss of his friend as well.

“I’m at a loss for words to hear about the passing of comedian Ralfie May,” he tweeted. “He was a friend to many and a father of 2 beautiful children. RIP.”

May is survived by his wife Lahna Turner, whom he separated from in 2015, as well as his daughter April June and son August James.