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—–.”
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.
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.