Actor and comedian Richard Belzer has died at 78. Belzer died early Sunday at his home in Bozouls in southwest France. Belzer’s official cause of death was not immediately known.
Bill Scheft – former "Late Show with David Letterman" writer and longtime friend of Belzer – told The Hollywood Reporter, "He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, 'F*** you, motherf***er.'"
Belzer is survived by his third wife – actress Harlee McBride – and two stepdaughters.
Belzer was best known for his role as detective John Munch in the "Law & Order" TV series. He also appeared in other hit TV shows such as "Law & Order: SVU," "Homicide: Life on the Street," "The X Files," "The Wire," "South Park," "30 Rock," "Arrested Development," "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," "The Larry Sanders Show," and "Moonlighting." Belzer retired from acting in 2016.
Belzer was a prominent voice on "National Lampoon Radio Hour" and the "Howard Stern Show."
Belzer was an accomplished stand-up comedian. He was the audience warm-up comedian for "Saturday Night Live" between 1975 and 1980, when he made three guest appearances on "SNL."
Celebrity tributes poured in for the "Law & Order" star.
Mariska Hargitay honored her "Law & Order: SVU" co-star in a touching Instagram post.
"Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I can hear them laughing already. I love you so very much, now and forever," Hargitay wrote.
Dick Wolf – "Law & Order: SVU" creator and executive producer –said in a statement, "Richard Belzer's detective John Munch is one of television's iconic characters. I first worked with Richard on the 'Law & Order/Homicide' crossover and loved the character so much, I told Tom (Fontana) that I wanted to make him one of the original characters on 'SVU.' The rest is history. Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional, and we will all miss him very much."
Actor Vincent D'Onofrio said, "Richard Belzer was always so kind to me. We met at comedy club he was performing in yrs before L&O. I was young with only one film into my career. He always remembered me. I had the pleasure of hang'n with him a couple of times. Sweet sweet man & funny as hell. He will be missed."
Podcast host Marc Maron said, "Richard Belzer died. He was an original. One of the greats, babe. I loved the guy. RIP."
Comedian Jeff Ross wrote on Twitter, "The Belz... Even holding his dog he was always the coolest cat in the room."
Comedian George Wallacerecalled, "1976 at Catch a Rising Star. I was called onto a stage for the first time. By Richard Belzer. Farewell. Love you forever."
Comedian Lewis Black added, "Sadly we lose the one of a kind Richard Belzer. The Belz was a pleasure and I was lucky to work with him as an actor and a comic. He was intelligent as he was funny and to watch him perform was to know why they had to come up with the word sardonic. Bon Voyage."
Laraine Newman – an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live" – tweeted, "I'm so sad to hear of Richard Belzer's passing. I loved this guy so much. He was one of my first friends when I got to New York to do SNL. We used to go out to dinner every week at Sheepshead Bay for lobster. One of the funniest people ever. A master at crowd work. RIP dearest."
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