“It has been said… that all good comedians have some painful experience in their lives. Any truth to that thesis, do you think?” [Morley] Safer asked.
“Sure,” Colbert replied. “My father and two of my brothers died when I was 10. I think I did my best to cheer my mom up.”
The three were killed in 1974 in an Eastern Airlines crash [at what is now Charlotte/Douglas International].
Asked if the tragedy still affects his life, Colbert says, “I know that after they died, nothing, I was 10, you know? I was still in elementary school. But nothing seemed that important to me. And so, I immediately had, I won’t say a cynical detachment from the world. But I certainly was detached from normal behavior of children around me. It didn’t make much sense. None of it seemed very important. And that feeds into a sense that acceptance, or blind acceptance of authority, is not easy for me.”
— From a “60 Minutes” interview with Stephen Colbert, April 30, 2006
On September 11, 1974, Eastern Airlines Flight 212 crashed 3 miles short of the foggy runway at Douglas Municipal Airport. Seventy-one of the 82 passengers on the DC-9, including the three Colberts, died on impact or from the resulting fire.