Luis Raél Marténez, a popular Puerto Rican comedian, actor and TV host, died Sunday in his Caribbean homeland of complications from pneumonia, according to the Associated Press. He was 51.
Best known for his crowd-pleasing stand-up routines and irreverent characters – like Doña Mary Jane, an elderly woman who smoked lots of pot – Martinez hosted the Univision variety show Anda P’al Caré from 2001 to 2003 and Telemundo’s game show Pa’ Que Te Lo Goces in 2006.
Following the news of his death, one of Martinez’s cousins, Lourdes Martinez, spoke about her family’s loss.
“This is something I never expected,” she reportedly said. “He was always in great health and all of this that has happened was very unexpected. I don’t have words to express how our family is feeling. I was raised with him and for me he was more than a cousin – he was a brother. I called him Raulito.”
Alejandro Garcéa Padilla, the Governor of Puerto Rico, remembers Martinez as an “extraordinary actor and comedian” and has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all public buildings in Puerto Rico for three days.
Hollywood stars, like Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco, are also mourning the loss of their friend. On Sunday, the actor and Prison Break alum Tweeted, “I just heard the sad news that I have lost a great friend – a brother. I imagine that God has called you so that you can bring him laughter.”
In a separate Tweet, Nolasco continued: “I will miss you, my brother. Had I known that when I saw you last Christmas it was for the last time, I would have given you a million more kisses.”
Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin echoed Nolasco’s words on Twitter. “Very sad about the news. It’s very sad. Luis Raél, fly high my brother,” he Tweeted.
A rep for Martinez told the Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora that he died at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. He had been hospitalized since mid-January.