Legislation & Order actor, stand-up comedian Richard Belzer useless at 78

Belzer died Sunday at his residence in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in southern France, his longtime buddy Invoice Scheft stated.

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Scheft, a author who had been engaged on a documentary about Belzer, stated there was no identified reason for dying, however that Belzer had been coping with circulatory and respiratory points. The actor Henry Winkler, Belzer’s cousin, tweeted, “Relaxation in peace Richard.”

For greater than twenty years and throughout 10 collection — even together with appearances on “30 Rock” and “Arrested Growth” — Belzer performed the wise-cracking, acerbic murder detective vulnerable to conspiracy theories.

Belzer first performed Munch on a 1993 episode of “Murder” and final performed him in 2016 on “Legislation & Order: SVU.”

Belzer by no means auditioned for the function. After listening to him on “The Howard Stern Present,” govt producer Barry Levinson introduced the comic in to learn for the half.

“I might by no means be a detective. But when I have been, that’s how I’d be,” Belzer as soon as stated. “They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories. So, it’s been quite a lot of enjoyable for me. A dream, actually.”

From that unlikely starting, Belzer’s Munch would grow to be certainly one of tv’s longest-running characters and a sunglasses-wearing presence on the small display screen for greater than twenty years. In 2008, Belzer revealed the novel “I Am Not a Cop!” with Michael Ian Black. He additionally helped write a number of books on conspiracy theories, about issues like President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Malaysia Airways Flight 370.

“He made me giggle a billion occasions,” his longtime buddy and fellow stand-up Richard Lewis stated Sunday on Twitter.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Belzer was drawn to comedy, he stated, throughout an abusive childhood wherein his mom would beat him and his older brother, Len.

He would do impressions of his childhood idol, Jerry Lewis. “My kitchen was the hardest room I ever labored,” Belzer instructed Folks journal in 1993.

He made his big-screen debut in Ken Shapiro’s 1974 movie “The Groove Tube,” a TV satire co-starring Chevy Chase, a movie that grew out of the comedy group Channel One which Belzer was part of.

Earlier than “Saturday Evening Reside” modified the comedy scene in New York, Belzer carried out with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Invoice Murray and others on the Nationwide Lampoon Radio Hour. In 1975, he grew to become the warm-up comedian for the newly launched “SNL.”

Whereas many solid members rapidly grew to become well-known, Belzer’s roles have been principally smaller cameos. He later stated “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels reneged on a promise to work him into the present.

However Belzer grew to become one of many period’s high stand-ups. He was identified particularly for his biting, cynical perspective and his witty, someday combative banter with the viewers. As one of the influential comedians of the ‘70s, Belzer was a grasp of crowd work.

“My fashion advanced from coping with drunken individuals at twelve, one, two within the morning and attempting to be like an alchemist and get the lead of their lives and switch it into golden jokes,” Belzer instructed Terry Gross on “Recent Air.”

Belzer would later write an irreverent self-help e-book titled “Tips on how to Be a Stand-Up Comedian” with recommendation on issues like easy methods to apologize to Frank Sinatra whenever you made enjoyable of him onstage or easy methods to take care of hecklers.

Belzer typically performed a stand-up comedian in movie, together with in Nineteen Eighties’ “Fame” and 1983’s “Scarface.” He had small roles right here and there, together with in “Evening Shift” in 1982, and “Fletch Lives” in 1989. However Munch would change Belzer’s profession.

As “Murder” co-creator Tom Fontana stated, “Munch was the spice in these dishes,” Belzer instructed the AV Membership. “Munch was based mostly on an actual man in Baltimore who was a star detective, in a approach. He would come onto grisly homicide scenes, begin doing one-liners, as a result of somebody needed to break the stress.

So, Munch served a vital perform. Not solely was he a dissident who stated what was on his thoughts, he sort of had the gallows humor that’s wanted in a murder squad.”

When “Murder” wrapped in early 1999, Dick Wolf was referred to as to see if the character may be part of one other NBC collection, “Legislation & Order,” the place Munch had popped up in a number of earlier episodes. Wolf already had his leads for “Legislation & Order,” however he wished Belzer to star in a derivative. That fall, “Legislation & Order: SVU” premiered, with Belzer starring alongside Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni in a storyline written as if Munch had transferred from Baltimore to New York.

“Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch is certainly one of tv’s iconic characters,” Wolf stated in an announcement.

“I first labored with Richard on the ‘Legislation & Order’/’Murder’ crossover and beloved the character a lot,” Wolf stated. “I wished to make him one of many unique characters on ‘SVU.’ The remaining is historical past. Richard introduced humor and pleasure into all our lives, was the consummate skilled and we’ll all miss him very a lot.”

Belzer is survived by his third spouse, the actress Harlee McBride, whom he married in 1985.

For the previous 20 years, they lived principally in France, in properties he bought partially from the proceeds of a lawsuit with Hulk Hogan. In 1985, Belzer had Hogan as a visitor on his cable TV speak present “Sizzling Properties” to carry out a chin-lock on him. Belzer handed out, hit his head and sued Hogan for $5 million. They settled out of courtroom.

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