Richard Belzer, the comedian and actor best known for his role as Detective John Munch on Law & Order, has died aged 78, longtime family friend Bill Scheft confirmed to the News on Sunday.
Scheft said Belzer died surrounded by his family in Beaulieu-sur-Mer in southern France.
A stand-up comedian with a loyal following, Belzer began his acting career in the 1974 film The Groove Tube. He also appeared on early episodes of Saturday Night Live.
But Belzer’s most memorable role was Detective John Munch, who he played Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999. Belzer continued in the role of Law & Order, appearing in the first episode of the series in 1993 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit debuted in 1993. 1999, with Belzer’s lead role running until 2016 for a total of 326 episodes, according to IMDb.
With his sharp, dark suit and glasses, Belzer is the imposing yet approachable figure that made the often cynical but dedicated detective a television icon. The role earned him the 2008 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Stealth Star.
I love this man so much, wrote comedian and SNL original Laraine Newman on Twitter. “One of the funniest people ever.
Actor and comedian Henry Winkler quoted Newman as tweeting to commemorate Belzer. Rest in Peace Richard, wrote Winkler.
Belzer’s former SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay wrote on Instagram: Goodbye my dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light and your unique view of this strange world.
How lucky the angels are to have you. I can already hear him laughing, the actress added.
Wolf Entertainment, the Dick Wolf production company that produces the entire Law & Order franchise, also released a statement from Wolf himself.
Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch is one of the most iconic characters on television, Wolfe wrote.
Richard brought humor and joy to all of our lives, was a consummate professional and will be sorely missed by all of us, added Wolfe.
Belzer’s other credits include the drama Santorini Blue, Scarface and Man on the Moon, a biographical film about the late comedian Andy Kaufman.
Belzer is survived by a wife, actress Harley McBride, and stepdaughters Jessica and Bree.
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