Richard Belzer, the long-running stand-up comedian who starred as John Munch in Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU, has died. He was 78. Belzer died on Sunday at his house in Bozouls, southern France, according to his longtime friend Bill Scheft. Laraine Newman, a comedian, originally reported his death on Twitter. "Rest in peace, Richard," written by Belzer's cousin, actor Henry Winkler.
Belzer played the wise-cracking, sardonic homicide detective prone to conspiracy ideas for more than two decades and spanning ten programmes, including cameos on 30 Rock and Arrested Development. Belzer first appeared on Homicide in 1993 and last appeared on Law & Order: SVU in 2016.
Belzer never tried out for the part. Executive producer Barry Levinson brought the comedian in to read for the part after hearing him on The Howard Stern Show.
"I'd never work as a detective." "But if I were, I'd be that way," Belzer once said. "They write about my paranoia, anti-establishment scepticism, and conspiracy beliefs." So far, it's been a lot of fun. "It was all a dream."
Belzer's Munch would go on to become one of television's longest-running characters and a sunglasses-wearing presence on the small screen for more than two decades. Belzer and Michael Ian Black collaborated on the novel "I Am Not a Police!" in 2008. He has contributed to the publication of various books on conspiracy theories about events such as President John F. Kennedy's assassination and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
"He made me laugh a billion times," tweeted his longtime friend and fellow comic Richard Lewis.
Belzer, who was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was drawn to comedy as a child because his mother abused him and his older brother, Len.
"My kitchen was the most difficult area I've ever worked in," Belzer told People magazine in 1993.
Belzer began his stand-up career in New York in 1972 after getting dismissed from Dean Junior College in Massachusetts. Belzer became a regular on Catch a Rising Star. He made his feature film debut in Ken Shapiro's 1974 film The Groove Tube, a TV parody co-starring Chevy Chase, a film that came out of Belzer's comedic group Channel One.
Before Saturday Night Live transformed the comic landscape in New York, Belzer appeared on the National Lampoon Radio Hour alongside John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and others. In 1975, he was hired as the opening act for the newly created Saturday Night Live. While many of the cast members rose to prominence rapidly, Belzer's performances were primarily minor cameos. He later claimed that SNL creator Lorne Michaels broke a commitment to include him in the show.
Richard Belzer, A Stand-up Comedian And TV Detective, Has Died At The Age Of 78
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