In contrast to Howard Stern, Don Imus and different massive names in shock radio, Mr. Limbaugh had no on-the-air sidekicks, although he had conversations with the unheard voice of somebody he referred to as “Bo Snerdly.” Nor did he have writers, scripts or outlines, simply notes and clippings from newspapers he perused day by day.

Alone along with his multitudes in his studio, he joked, ranted, twitted and burst into tune, mimicry or boo-hoos as “The Rush Limbaugh Present” beamed out over 650 stations of the Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia (previously Clear Channel Communications). In his alternate-universe-on-the-air, he was “El Rushbo” and “America’s Anchorman” within the “Southern Command” bunker of an “Excellence in Broadcasting” community.

To devoted “Dittoheads,” his defiantly self-mocking followers, he was an indomitable patriot, an icon of wit and knowledge. His political clout, they mentioned, lay within the reactions he provoked — avalanches of calls, emails and web site rage, headlines aplenty and the occasional reward or wrath from the White Home and Capitol Hill.

To detractors he was a sanctimonious charlatan, essentially the most harmful man in America, a label he co-opted. And a few critics insisted that he had no actual political energy, solely an intimidating, self-aggrandizing presence that swayed an growing old, ultraright fringe whose numbers, whereas spectacular, weren’t thought-about nice sufficient to have an effect on the end result of nationwide elections.

Married 4 instances and divorced 3 times with no youngsters, Mr. Limbaugh lived in his Palm Seaside property surrounded by Oriental carpets, chandeliers and a two-story mahogany-paneled library with leather-bound collections. He had a half-dozen automobiles, one costing $450,000, and a $54 million Gulfstream G550 jet. He was identified to drop $5,000 suggestions in eating places.

Mr. Limbaugh was himself simply caricatured: chubby all his life, generally topping 300 kilos, a cigar smoker with an impish grin and sly eyes. He moved with shocking grace when exhibiting how an environmentalist skips daintily in a woodland. However his voice was his brass ring — a jaunty, fast staccato, breaking into squeaky dolphin-talk or falsetto sobbing to show the do-gooders along with his creative, bruising vocabulary.