Richard Belzer, who is remembered best for his roles as Detective John Munch from “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” has died at 78, his manager confirmed to CNN.
His official cause of death was not released. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Belzer died early Sunday on February 19, 2023, “at his home in Bozouls in southwest France.”
The Hollywood Reporter attributed that detail to writer Bill Scheft, Belzer’s friend, who told the publication, “He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘F*** you, mother******.’”
Tributes flowed for Belzer as news of his death spread. “Richard Belzer was simply hilarious. A genius at handling a crowd. So sad he’s passed away,” comedian Bill Crystal tweeted.
Here’s what you need to know:
Richard Belzer ‘Passed Away Peacefully,’ His Manager Says
Belzer “passed away peacefully” early Sunday morning at his French home, Eric Gardner, his manager, told CNN.
“Goodbye my dear, dear friend,” actress and former co-star Mariska Hargitay wrote on Instagram. “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.”
Former “SVU” co-star Chris Meloni tweeted, “Good bye mon ami. I love you.”
Years Ago, Richard Belzer Was Diagnosed With Testicular Cancer
Belzer was a testicular cancer survivor. “Being diagnosed with testicular cancer was like a cosmic slap in the face,” he told The Washington Post, which reported in 1992 that Belzer discovered the cancer while taking a bath at age 40 eight years before.
“My reaction was, ‘How do I get rid of it, and can I have sex?'” he told The Post. He survived cancer, spending decades earning fans on television screens.
“I would never be a detective, but if I were, that’s how I’d be,” he said in an interview with The Boomer Tube. “The character is very close to how I would be. They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories, so it’s been a lot of fun for me. It’s been a dream actually.”
Saturday Night Live alum Laraine Newman 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.”
Richard Lewis tweeted, “Old pals are disappearing. Belzer passed today. Love to his family. In happier times this is us a few days before selling out Town Hall. We practically started our careers the same moment in NYC. He made me laugh a billion times. RIP Belz❤️”
According Belzer’s IMDB profile, which lists his cause of death as “health complications,” Belzer was born on August 4, 1944 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “His mother (Frances) died of breast cancer when Richard was 18. His father (Charles) committed suicide when he was 22,” the profile reads.
Belzer went on to have a prolific career and was “the only actor in television history to play the same character (Detective John Munch) in 11 different live-action series,” IMDb reported.
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