Richard Belzer, comedian and ‘Law & Order: SVU’ actor, dies at age 78 | CNN

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Richard Belzer, the comic and actor greatest identified for enjoying the acerbic Detective John Munch throughout quite a lot of NBC crime dramas, together with “Legislation & Order: Particular Victims Unit,” over greater than 20 years, has died, in line with his longtime supervisor. He was 78.

Belzer “handed away peacefully” early Sunday morning native time at his house in France, in line with Eric Gardner, his supervisor.

Author Invoice Scheft, a longtime pal of the actor, instructed The Hollywood Reporter that Belzer had “a number of well being points.”

Belzer was famed for his function as Detective Munch, first showing on NBC’s “Murder: Life on the Road” from 1993 to 1999. He reprised that function within the TV film “Murder: The Film” in 2000 and additionally appeared because the famed detective in 4 episodes of “Legislation & Order.”

Belzer appeared as Munch once more in “Legislation & Order: SVU,” the place he turned a collection common, showing in 326 episodes between 1999 and 2016. Although his character retired in 2013, he returned in two extra episodes after his departure.

Like Belzer himself, detective Munch had a conspiratorial mindset, a Jewish background and a dry humorousness. His scrawny, wisecracking, glasses-wearing investigator turned over time one of the recognizable cops in TV crime present historical past.

“I’d by no means be a detective, but when I had been, that’s how I’d be,” he mentioned in a latest interview with The Boomer Tube. “The character may be very near how I’d be. They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories, so it’s been lots of enjoyable for me. It’s been a dream really.”

Over the course of his profession, Belzer portrayed a detective in 11 tv collection, together with “The Wire” and “The X-Recordsdata.” He made crossover appearances in-character within the comedies “30 Rock,” “Arrested Growth” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and his detective Munch was even became a muppet within the “Sesame Road” skit “Special Letters Unit.”

In a press release posted to the Twitter account for Wolf Leisure, “Legislation & Order” producer Dick Wolf mentioned Belzer’s Munch character was “one in every of tv’s iconic characters.”

“I first labored with Richard on the ‘Legislation & Order’ / ‘Murder’ crossover and liked the character a lot. I instructed Tom (Fontana) that I needed to make him one of many authentic characters on ‘SVU.’ The remaining is historical past,” Wolf mentioned. “Richard introduced humor and pleasure into all our lives, was the consummate skilled, and we’ll all miss him very a lot.”

His colleagues, amongst them Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay, provided reward of their co-star.

“Goodbye my pricey, pricey pal,” Hargitay wrote on Instagram. “I’ll miss you, your distinctive mild, and your singular tackle this unusual world. I really feel blessed to have identified you and adored you and labored with you, aspect by aspect, for thus a few years.”

Different fond recollections got here from comedians Billy Crystal, Richard Lewis and Laraine Newman, who singled out his comedic crowd work.

“I don’t suppose there’s a comic book of our era who wouldn’t cite Richard Belzer, as not solely a serious affect, however as completely the funniest man,” mentioned Paul Shaffer, the comic and musician on David Letterman’s late evening exhibits. “Now, everyone strikes up one.”

Richard Belzer as Det. John Munch in

Regardless of his crime-solving profession, the Connecticut-born actor’s early focus was on comedy and rooted in New York Metropolis. He appeared within the metropolis’s comedy golf equipment, together with Catch a Rising Star and The Improv, and was identified for his unsympathetic feedback on political and social occasions of the time. 

His breakout function got here in 1974, when he starred alongside Chevy Chase within the counter-culture movie “The Groove Tube,” which featured a compilation of skits that included social commentary on televisions exhibits of the ’70s. He later labored because the warm-up act for “Saturday Evening Dwell” and appeared in a number of sketches in its early seasons.

Belzer appeared within the hit 1980 movie “Fame” as M.C. Later movie roles got here in 1982’s “Evening Shift” adopted by the Al Pacino-starring “Scarface” one yr later. And within the Nineteen Nineties, he appeared on the superhero exhibits “The Flash” and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

Then got here the chance on “Murder.” The community needed a “hunk” to play the function, however the filmmaker Barry Levinson solid Belzer as detective Munch after listening to him on the radio, he told the AV Club in 2010.

A longtime creator, Belzer was a identified conspiracy buff and wrote the guide, “UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Need to Be Loopy to Imagine.” He additionally wrote a number of comedy books and novels, together with “I Am Not A Cop!,” a fictionalized story a few TV actor who performs a detective and has to resolve his pal’s disappearance.

Belzer’s final credited function was within the 2016 movie “The Comic” starring Robert de Niro, by which Belzer portrayed himself.

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