Speed Reads

RIP

British comedy legend Rik Mayall, aka 'Drop Dead Fred', dead at 56

British comedy legend Rik Mayall, aka 'Drop Dead Fred', dead at 56

British comedian and actor Rik Mayall, perhaps best known to American audiences for playing the title character in the absurdist cult film Drop Dead Fred, has died at age 56, the Daily Mirror reports.

In his home country of the United Kingdom, Mayall was well known for a series of over-the-top comedy TV shows, most notably the early 1980's cult hit The Young Ones, in which he played an awkward, left-wing poser living with three other stereotyped and obnoxious college students.

Mayall's career in physical comedy was sidetracked in the late 1990's after a near-fatal ATV accident that left him in a coma for several days, after which he permanently had to take anti-epilepsy medication. However, he eventually made a triumphant return to performing in the mid-2000's, with a revival of his political satire show The New Statesman as a stage production.

Mayall is survived by his wife Barbara and their three grown children.