Richard Belzer, the longtime slapstick comedian who grew to become one among TV’s most indelible detectives as John Munch in “Murder: Life on the Avenue” and “Regulation & Order: SVU,” has died. He was 78.
Belzer died Sunday at his house in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in southern France, his longtime good friend Invoice Scheft stated. 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 20 years and throughout 10 sequence _ 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 “Regulation & Order: SVU.”
Belzer by no means auditioned for the function. After listening to him on “The Howard Stern Present,” government producer Barry Levinson introduced the comic in to learn for the half.
“I’d by no means be a detective. But when I had 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 loads of enjoyable for me. A dream, actually.”
From that unlikely starting, Belzer’s Munch would turn into one among tv’s longest-running characters and a sunglasses-wearing presence on the small display for greater than 20 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 chortle a billion instances,” his longtime good friend 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 informed Individuals journal in 1993.
After being expelled from Dean Junior School in Massachusetts, Belzer launched into a lifetime of stand-up in New York in 1972. At Catch a Rising Star, Belzer grew to become an everyday performer and an emcee. 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 Stay” 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 forged members rapidly grew to become well-known, Belzer’s roles had 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 prime stand-ups. He was identified particularly for his biting, cynical angle and his witty, someday combative banter with the viewers. As one of the crucial influential comedians of the ’70s, Belzer was a grasp of crowd work.
“My type 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 informed Terry Gross on “Recent Air.”
Belzer would later write an irreverent self-help ebook titled “Methods to Be a Stand-Up Comedian” with recommendation on issues like to apologize to Frank Sinatra once you made enjoyable of him onstage or cope with hecklers. Certainly one of his favourite strains was: “I’ve a microphone. You’ve gotten a beer. God has a plan and also you’re not in on it.”
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 informed the AV Membership. “Munch was primarily based on an actual man in Baltimore who was a star detective, in a means. 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 operate. Not solely was he a dissident who stated what was on his thoughts, he form of had the gallows humor that’s wanted in a murder squad.”
When “Murder” wrapped in early 1999, Munch known as Dick Wolf to see if the character may be a part of one other NBC sequence, “Regulation & Order,” the place Munch had popped up in a number of earlier episodes. Wolf already had his leads for “Regulation & Order,” however he needed Belzer to star in a derivative. That fall, “Regulation & 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 one among tv’s iconic characters,” Wolf stated in a press release.
“I first labored with Richard on the `Regulation & Order’/`Murder’ crossover and beloved the character a lot,” Wolf stated. “I needed 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 are going to 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 “Scorching 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.
This story has been corrected to mirror that Belzer died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, not Bozouls, as Scheft initially informed The Hollywood Reporter.