Richard Belzer, TV detective and stand-up comedian, dies at 78 – Nationwide


Richard Belzer, the longtime slapstick comedian who turned into one in every of TV’s maximum indelible detectives as John Munch in “Murder: Lifestyles at the Boulevard” and “Legislation & Order: SVU,” has died. He used to be 78.

Belzer died Sunday at his house in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in southern France, his longtime pal Invoice Scheft mentioned. Scheft, a creator who have been running on a documentary about Belzer, mentioned there used to be no identified explanation for loss of life, however that Belzer have been coping with circulatory and breathing problems. The actor Henry Winkler, Belzer’s cousin, tweeted, “Leisure in peace Richard.”

For greater than 20 years and throughout 10 sequence _ even together with appearances on “30 Rock” and “Arrested Building” _ 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 Display,” government manufacturer Barry Levinson introduced the comic in to learn for the phase.

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“I might by no means be a detective. But when I have been, that’s how I’d be,” Belzer as soon as mentioned. “They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories. So it’s been numerous a laugh for me. A dream, in reality.”

From that not going starting, Belzer’s Munch would turn into one in every of tv’s longest-running characters and a sunglasses-wearing presence at the small display screen for greater than 20 years. In 2008, Belzer printed the unconventional “I Am No longer a Cop!” with Michael Ian Black. He additionally helped write a number of books on conspiracy theories, about such things as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Malaysia Airways Flight 370.

“He made me snigger one billion occasions,” his longtime pal and fellow stand-up Richard Lewis mentioned Sunday on Twitter.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Belzer used to be attracted to comedy, he mentioned, all through an abusive adolescence by which his mom would beat him and his older brother, Len. He would do impressions of his adolescence idol, Jerry Lewis. “My kitchen used to be the hardest room I ever labored,” Belzer informed Other folks mag 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 Emerging Megastar, Belzer turned into an ordinary 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 staff Channel One who Belzer used to be part of.

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Earlier than “Saturday Evening Are living” modified the comedy scene in New York, Belzer carried out with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Invoice Murray and others at the Nationwide Lampoon Radio Hour. In 1975, he turned into the warm-up comedian for the newly introduced “SNL.” Whilst many solid participants briefly turned into well-known, Belzer’s roles have been most commonly smaller cameos. He later mentioned “SNL” author Lorne Michaels reneged on a promise to paintings him into the display.

However Belzer turned into one of the crucial technology’s most sensible stand-ups. He used to be identified particularly for his biting, cynical perspective and his witty, someday combative banter with the target audience. As some of the influential comedians of the ’70s, Belzer used to be a grasp of crowd paintings.

“My taste developed from coping with drunken other people at twelve, one, two within the morning and seeking to be like an alchemist and get the lead in their lives and switch it into golden jokes,” Belzer informed Terry Gross on “Contemporary Air.”

Belzer would later write an irreverent self-help ebook titled “Find out how to Be a Stand-Up Comedian” with recommendation on such things as how you can to express regret to Frank Sinatra whilst you made a laugh of him onstage or how you can take care of hecklers. Considered one of his favourite traces used to be: “I’ve a microphone. You could have a lager. God has a plan and also you’re now not in on it.”

Belzer steadily performed a stand-up comedian in movie, together with in Nineteen Eighties’ “Repute” 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 alternate Belzer’s profession.

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As ”Murder“ co-creator Tom Fontana mentioned, ”Munch used to be the spice in those dishes,” Belzer informed the AV Membership. “Munch used to be in accordance with an actual man in Baltimore who used to be a celeb detective, in some way. He would come onto grisly homicide scenes, get started doing one-liners, as a result of any person needed to damage the stress. So Munch served a vital serve as. No longer most effective used to be he a dissident who mentioned what used to be on his thoughts, he more or less had the gallows humor that’s wanted in a murder squad.”

When “Murder” wrapped in early 1999, Munch referred to as Dick Wolf to peer if the nature may just sign up for any other NBC sequence, “Legislation & Order,” the place Munch had popped up in a couple of earlier episodes. Wolf already had his leads for “Legislation & Order,” however he sought after Belzer to famous person in a by-product. That fall, “Legislation & Order: SVU” premiered, with Belzer starring along Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni in a storyline written as regardless that Munch had transferred from Baltimore to New York.

“Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch is one in every of tv’s iconic characters,” Wolf mentioned in a commentary.

“I first labored with Richard at the `Legislation & Order’/`Murder’ crossover and cherished the nature such a lot,” Wolf mentioned. “I sought after to make him one of the crucial authentic characters on `SVU.’ The remaining is historical past. Richard introduced humor and pleasure into all our lives, used to be the consummate skilled and we will be able to all pass over him very a lot.”

Belzer is survived by way of his 3rd spouse, the actress Harlee McBride, whom he married in 1985. For the previous twenty years, they lived most commonly in France, in houses he bought in part from the proceeds of a lawsuit with Hulk Hogan. In 1985, Belzer had Hogan as a visitor on his cable TV communicate display “Sizzling Houses” to accomplish 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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This tale has been corrected to mirror that Belzer died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, now not Bozouls, as Scheft at first informed The Hollywood Reporter.



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