Comic Ralphie May, a headliner at Harrah’s Las Vegas since January, has died at age 45.
May’s publicist, Stacey Pokluda, confirmed earlier reports of the comic’s death:
“We are heartbroken to announce the untimely death of our friend, Ralphie May,” Pokluda said in a statement. “Ralphie had been battling pneumonia and had cancelled 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.”
Caesars Entertainment spokeswoman Talia Rothman issued a statement on behalf of the hotel:
“We are incredibly saddened by the loss of our beloved comedian headliner, Ralphie May, and our hearts go out to his friends and family. Ralphie played a special role in this world, as he strived to bring joy to all. Over the last year, he became a cherished member of the Harrah’s Las Vegas family. We will forever be grateful for his laughter and friendship.
“On a personal note, I will miss him greatly. We ask that everyone kindly respect his family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
Wednesday night, May was honored as Comedian of the Year at the Global Gaming Expo Casino Entertainment Awards show at Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel.
May was not on hand to accept the award, but did post a photo on Twitter of his trophy.
May has long been overweight, approaching 400 pounds at his heaviest, despite more recent efforts to drop his weight.
May launched to national fame as a runner-up on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” contest series in 2003. In January, he said Las Vegas was an ideal locale for his fans to take in his 10 p.m. stand-up act.
“Vegas needs a really funny, dirty, late-night show, and I’ll tell it like it is, I promise you that,” he said at the time. “And you gotta love the audience I bring in. They eat, drink and play. Hey, we’re going out, and that’s what you want in Vegas.”