According to NBC, Richard Belzer, an actor best known for his work on the adored crime drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” passed away on Sunday at the age of 78.
Belzer began his career as a stand-up comic before settling in the entertainment industry and appearing in several television series over the years.
In a joint statement issued on Sunday, Universal Television and NBC expressed their condolences.
Belzer passed away on Sunday at his home in Bozouls, southern France, according to Bill Scheft, a close friend of the actor. His passing was first reported on Twitter by comedian Laraine Newman. Rest in peace, Richard was written by Belzer’s cousin, the actor Henry Winkler.
Belzer characterized the witty, acerbic homicide detective inclined to conspiracies for over two decades across ten series, including appearances on 30 Rock and Arrested Development. Belzer pictured Munch for the first time on a 1993 episode of Homicide and for the last time on Law & Order: SVU in 2016.
Belzer never went on a trial run for the part. Barry Levinson, the executive producer, invited the comedian to audition after hearing him on The Howard Stern Show.
“I would never become a detective. However, if I were, I’d act that way, “the opinion of Belzer. “All of my conspiracy theories, anti-establishment dissidence, and paranoia are addressed in their letters. It’s been a great experience so far. Everything was a dream.”
Munch, played by Belzer, would become one of television’s longest-running actors and a sunglasses-wearing presence for over two decades. In 2008, Belzer and Michael Ian Black worked together on the book I Am Not a Cop! Additionally, he helped to publish many books on conspiracy theories, including those pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Richard Lewis, a stand-up comedian and longtime friend of his, wrote on Twitter, “He made me laugh a billion times.”
Belzer, raised by an abusive mother who beat him and his older brother Len, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He claimed that this is why he was drawn to comedy. In 1993, Belzer told People magazine, “my kitchen was the toughest room I ever worked.”
Following his rejection from Dean Junior College in Massachusetts, Belzer started a career in stand-up comedy in New York in 1972. Belzer established a routine at Catch a Rising Star. He made his big-screen debut in The Groove Tube, a TV parody directed by Ken Shapiro and starring Chevy Chase, born out of the comedy group Channel One, of which Belzer was a member and which was released in 1974.
Belzer performed with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and other comedians on the National Lampoon Radio Hour before Saturday Night Live revolutionized the comedy scene in New York. He was hired in 1975 to perform as SNL’s opening act. Belzer’s roles tended to be brief cameos, unlike many cast members who gained fame quickly. Later, he claimed that the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, had broken his promise to include him.
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