Richard Belzer, the longtime humorist who grew to become considered one of TV’s most indelible detectives as John Munch in “Murder: Life on the Road” and “Regulation & Order: SVU,” has died. He was 78.
Belzer died Sunday at his dwelling in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in southern France, his longtime pal Invoice Scheft stated. Scheft, a author who had been engaged on a documentary about Belzer, stated there was no recognized reason behind 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 Improvement” _ Belzer performed the wise-cracking, acerbic murder detective susceptible 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 position. After listening to him on “The Howard Stern Present,” govt producer Barry Levinson introduced the comic in to learn for the half.
“I’d by no means be a detective. But when I have 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 lots of enjoyable for me. A dream, actually.”
From that unlikely starting, Belzer’s Munch would develop into considered one of tv’s longest-running characters and a sunglasses-wearing presence on the small display screen for greater than 20 years. In 2008, Belzer printed 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 pal 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 through which 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 instructed Folks 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 Dwell” 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 have 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 recognized particularly for his biting, cynical perspective and his witty, someday combative banter with the viewers. As some of the influential comedians of the ’70s, Belzer was a grasp of crowd work.
“My type developed from coping with drunken individuals at twelve, one, two within the morning and making an attempt to be like an alchemist and get the lead of their lives and switch it into golden jokes,” Belzer instructed Terry Gross on “Contemporary Air.”
Belzer would later write an irreverent self-help e book titled “Learn how to Be a Stand-Up Comedian” with recommendation on issues like the way to to apologize to Frank Sinatra whenever you made enjoyable of him onstage or the way to cope with hecklers. Considered one of his favourite strains was: “I’ve a microphone. You have got 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 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 instructed the AV Membership. “Munch was based mostly on an actual man in Baltimore who was a star detective, in a method. 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 perform. 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 by-product. 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 considered one of tv’s iconic characters,” Wolf stated in a press release.
“I first labored with Richard on the `Regulation & Order’/`Murder’ crossover and liked the character a lot,” Wolf stated. “I needed to make him one of many unique characters on `SVU.’ The remainder 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 houses he bought partially from the proceeds of a lawsuit with Hulk Hogan. In 1985, Belzer had Hogan as a visitor on his cable TV discuss 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 replicate that Belzer died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, not Bozouls, as Scheft initially instructed The Hollywood Reporter.