Just a few weeks before his death, Bob Saget spoke with CBS News about laughter, a gift he gave millions of fans for decades as the star of Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos. Saget also spoke about his mission to raise awareness of scleroderma, the disease that took his sister Gay Saget's life in 1994. Saget died on Jan. 9, which would have been Gay's 75th birthday. The comedian was 65.
Saget spoke about the power of laughter in the darkest of times. He recalled making people laugh when he was only 4 years old, taking inspiration from silent movie stars. "I knew some jokes, but it wasn't really jokes. It was just like; I've got to perform. I've got to make people laugh," Saget recalled. Laughter also "truly helped me survive and it helped keep me mentally alive, rather than letting it destroy me," Saget told CBS News chief medical corresponded Dr. Jon LaPook, who was a good friend of Saget's, in December.
Bob Saget tells @DrLaPook that turning to comedy helped him get through tough times in his life, including losing his sister to scleroderma: “It was a defense mechanism and it truly helped me survive.”— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) January 13, 2022
Watch the full interview tomorrow on #CBSMornings. pic.twitter.com/0DNRgpfJlt
Saget noted how important comedy was for him after Gay's death. He later made it his life's mission to raise awareness of scleroderma, a rare disease that involves the "hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues," notes the Mayo Clinic. He worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Scleroderma Research Foundation throughout his career. In 1996, Saget also produced the Dana Delany-starring For Hope, based on Gay's life. Saget's interview with Dr. LaPook will air during CBS Mornings on Friday.
After Saget's death, SRF Executive Director Joanne Gold told PEOPLE its members were "shocked and heartbroken" by the news. They hoped he "joined [Gay] somewhere" for a celebration together. "Bob was deeply dedicated to our mission to find a cure for this complex disease," Gold added. "But more than that, Bob was an uncommonly kind, generous and caring person. I can't express how deeply all of us at the SRF will miss him."
Saget was found dead in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Florida, just hours after he performed a show just outside Jacksonville. No cause of death has been determined yet, but authorities have ruled out foul play and found no evidence of drug use at the scene. He is survived by his second wife, Kelly Rizzo, and his three daughters from his first marriage, Aubrey, Lara, and Jennifer.
"We are devastated to confirm that our beloved Bob passed away today. He was everything to us and we want you to know how much he loved his fans, performing live and bringing people from all walks of life together with laughter," Saget's family said in a statement after news broke of his death on Sunday. "Though we ask for privacy at this time, we invite you to join us in remembering the love and laughter that Bob brought to the world."