Richard Belzer — famous for his work on ‘Law & Order’ and in the standup comedy world — has died … this according to his close comedy pals.
News about Belzer’s death spread like wildfire Sunday morning, with none other than Laraine Newman — an original ‘SNL’ cast member, who worked alongside Belzer from the mid-’70s through the ’80s — confirming the latest.
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. pic.twitter.com/u23co0JPA2
— Laraine Newman (@larainenewman) February 19, 2023
She wrote, “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.”
Comedian Marc Maron also sent his condolences, calling him an original and “one of the greats.” Other tributes are pouring in from all over showbiz, although details about his passing haven’t been officially released just yet.
Belzer was most known for portraying Det. John Munch on ‘Law & Order: SVU’, dating back to 1996. He’d starred in over 300 episodes of the fan-fave cop series … playing the quick-witted and razor-sharp Munch for several years. His character was written off in 2016.
His famous police character had also existed even before ‘SVU’ came around … Munch had existed in another TV universe — namely, on the classic hit ‘Homicide,’ where he starred opposite Ned Beatty, Daniel Baldwin and other big actors for seven straight seasons.
Prior to his stint in network TV, Belzer was a renowned comedian … as we mentioned, he appeared on ‘SNL’ during its inception period — but he also did a lot of standup and sketch comedy on his own, plus … he hosted variety shows/specials as well.
Beyond his esteemed work with Dick Wolf and co. … Belzer had several other acting credits under his belt. Some other famous shows he’d been on include … “Moonlighting,” “Miami Vice,” “D.C. Follies,” “Monsters,” “The Flash,” “Nurses,” ‘Lois & Clark,’ “The X-Files,” “Arrested Development,” “The Wire,” “30 Rock,” “American Dad” and many, many more.
His film resume was impressive too … he’d starred in “Scarface,” “Fame,” “Fletch Lives,” “The Bonfires of the Vanities,” “Species II,” “Man on the Moon,” “The Puppet Masters” and others.
The last we got Belzer in the street, he was shooting jokes from the hip … talking conspiracy theories and showing off that legendary dry humor he was known for. Super nice guy.
Belzer is survived by his wife, Harlee, and his extended family. He was 78.