Carlin won four Grammy awards and was nominated for five Emmy awards
Grammy-award winning comedian George Carlin, best known for his Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV routine, has died of heart failure aged 71.
The star was admitted to a hospital in Los Angeles on Sunday with chest pains and died later that day.
Jack Burns, Carlin's comedy partner in the early 1960s, told the Associated Press agency: "He was a genius and I will miss him dearly."
Carlin performed as recently as last weekend in Las Vegas.
The star, who had a history of heart problems, was scheduled to receive the John F Kennedy Center's prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humour in November.
Carlin became known for his unpredictable performances and for pushing boundaries during his 50-year career.
He achieved status as an anti-Establishment icon in the 1970s with his provocative and controversial acts.
His Seven Words routine led to his arrest in 1972 for disturbing the peace after he performed the act at a show in Milwaukee.
Carlin became known for his edgy and provocative performances
The same routine, which was played on a New York radio station, resulted in a Supreme Court ruling in 1978 upholding the government's authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.
Carlin produced 23 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, a couple of TV shows and appeared in several movies.
He also hosted the first broadcast of Saturday Night Live, won four Grammy Awards - each for best spoken comedy album - and was nominated for five Emmys.
Drug addiction plagued him for much of his life, beginning with marijuana experimentation as a teenager.
During the 1970s he began using cocaine and prescription painkillers.
He racked up debt during that time and ended up owing about $3m in back taxes.
In 2004, he entered a Los Angeles rehab clinic for his alcohol and Vicodin abuse.
Carlin is survived by his second wife Sally Wade; daughter Kelly Carlin McCall; and brother Patrick.
His first wife, Brenda, died of cancer in 1997.