The comedian and actor was best known for playing TV detective John Munch on "Homicide: Life on the Street" and various "Law & Order" series.
Richard Belzer, best-known for a single role he played across decades, died on Sunday at his home in Bozouls, France. He was 78.
His death was confimed by writer and longtime friend Bill Scheft. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sheft said the actor and comedian's last words were, 'F--- you, motherf-----."
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A consummate stand-up comedian through his earlier career, Richard Belzer achieved new levels of fame when he landed the role of Detective John Munch on "Homicide: Life on the Street."
He would go on to set a record for playing the same character across eleven shows on six different networks.
Aside from 22 consecutive seasons of Much (another record) as a series regular on "Homicide" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," he also appeared on "Law & Order," "The X-Files," "The Beat," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "Arrested Development," "The Wire," "30 Rock," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and a Munch-esque character on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." He retired from "SVU" as a series regular in Season 15.
Prior to his breakout role, Belzer worked as a warmup comedian for "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s. He made his film debut just prior to the launch of that show in "The Groove Tube," and made three "SNL" appearances as a guest.
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He proceeded to appear in various radio shows, films, television programs and even music videso throughout the 1970s and '80s until breaking big as Munch on "Homicide" in 1993.
His "SVU" co-star Mariska Hargitay was among the celebrities paying tribute to the late actor, sharing a sweet message to her Instagram page.
"Goodbye my dear, dear friend," she wrote. "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 many years."
"How lucky the angels are to have you," she continued. "I can hear them laughing already. I love you so very much, now and forever."
Laraine Newman, who worked alongside him at "SNL," reminisced about their long friendship, calling him "one of the funniest people ever." You can see more celebrity tributes below.
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Richard Belzer was the first actor to welcome me when I started at SVU. Open, warm, acerbic, whip smart, surprisingly kind. I loved writing for Munch, and I loved being with Belz. We sensed this would be his parting scene. Godspeed Belz…— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) February 19, 2023 @warrenleightTV
https://t.co/PhVvZMMcj0 via @YouTube
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 @larainenewman
Richard Belzer was simply hilarious. A genius at handling a crowd. So sad he’s passed away.— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) February 19, 2023 @BillyCrystal
Sleep well, sweet prince. ♥️ Loved #RichardBelzer. Seen here w Lou. pic.twitter.com/ULYgKDVJJi— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) February 19, 2023 @nlyonne
Aw goddamit, RIP Richard Belzer. I just always thought he’d be around ‘cause it seemed like he always was. A true original. #TheBelzBabe— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 19, 2023 @pattonoswalt
25 years ago I wanted to be a stand up comic so this was the first book I read .. Thank you for changing my life Richard Belzer… my comedy brother. Rest in peace and make God laugh❤️ pic.twitter.com/tO6okroieM— loni love (@LoniLove) February 19, 2023 @LoniLove
Richard Belzer died. He was an original. One of the greats, babe. I loved the guy. RIP— marc maron (@marcmaron) February 19, 2023 @marcmaron
Richard Belzer was as kind as he was funny. I will miss his brand of comedy that was not confined to boundaries. And will always be grateful for a friendship that lasted almost 50 years. R.I.P .Belz#RichardBelzer pic.twitter.com/635KQPvPEX— Alan Zweibel (@AlanZweibel) February 19, 2023 @AlanZweibel
The Belz… Even holding his dog he was always the coolest cat in the room. #RichardBelzer pic.twitter.com/QtMYBMl7OJ— Jeff Ross (@realjeffreyross) February 19, 2023 @realjeffreyross
#RIP #RichardBelzer (In the always-cool, ever-present shades.) ‘Belz’ broke every rule of comedy and blazed the path for so many … 🙏 pic.twitter.com/3oQPnQxe4T— Joe Piscopo (@JrzyJoePiscopo) February 19, 2023 @JrzyJoePiscopo