Comedian and TV detective Richard Belzer dies at 78

Richard Belz­er, the come­di­an and one of tele­vi­sion’s most mem­o­rable detec­tives as John Munch in Homi­cide, has died.

Richard Belz­er, the come­di­an who appeared on tele­vi­sion as John Munch in Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU, has died. he was 78 years old.

Belz­er died Sun­day at his home in Bozoul, in the south of France, his long­time friend Bill Sheft told The Hol­ly­wood Reporter. Come­di­an Laraine New­man was the first to announce his death on Twit­ter. Belz­er’s cousin, actor Hen­ry Win­kler, wrote, “Rest in peace.”

Over 20 years and over 10 series – includ­ing appear­ances on 30 Rock and Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment – Belz­er played the con­spir­a­cy-the­o­ret­ic smarts, acid mur­der detec­tive. Belz­er first played Munch in an episode of Homi­cide in 1993, and last in Law & Order: SVU in 2016.

Belz­er nev­er audi­tioned for the role. After hear­ing his voice on The Howard Stern Show, exec­u­tive pro­duc­er Bar­ry Levin­son brought the come­di­an in to read for his part.

“I can’t be a detec­tive, but if I were, I would,” Belz­er once said. “She writes all my para­noia, dis­sent, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, etc. So it’s a lot of fun for me. It’s a dream, really.”

Thus, Belz­er’s Munch went from unlike­ly begin­nings to become one of tele­vi­sion’s longest-run­ning and beloved char­ac­ters, appear­ing as a bespec­ta­cled pres­ence on the small screen for more than two decades.

In 2008, Belz­er col­lab­o­rat­ed with Michael Ian Black on the nov­el I’m Not a Cop! ] Pub­lished. He also helped write books on con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, includ­ing the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy and Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370.

“He made me laugh a bil­lion times,” his long­time friend and fel­low mono­list Richard Lewis said on Twitter.

Born in Bridge­port, Con­necti­cut, Belz­er became drawn to com­e­dy dur­ing his child­hood when his moth­er beat him and his old­er broth­er Len. “My kitchen was the tough­est room I’d ever worked in,” he told Peo­ple mag­a­zine in 1993.

After being expelled from Dean Col­lege in Mass­a­chu­setts, in 1972 he began his life as a stand-up in New York. On Catch the Ris­ing Star, Belz­er became a regular.

In 1974, he made his film debut in The Groove Tube, direct­ed by Ken Shapiro. A TV satir­i­cal film co-star­ring Chevy Chase, born out of Belz­er’s com­e­dy troupe, Chan­nel One.

Before Sat­ur­day Night Live changed New York’s com­e­dy scene, Belz­er appeared on the Nation­al Lam­poon Radio Hour with John Belushi, Gil­da Rad­ner and Bill Mur­ray. In 1975, he became the warmup com for the new­ly launched SNL.

Many of the cast quick­ly rose to fame, but Belz­er’s roles were most­ly minor cameos. He lat­er claimed that SNL cre­ator Lorne Michaels broke a promise to cast him.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.