Richard Belzer, a renowned actor who gained popularity for his role as detective John Munch in the TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law and Order: Victims Unit,” passed away today at the age of 78.
The actor, who started his career as a comedian before becoming an actor, died peacefully at his home in Bozouls, a commune located in the south of France. His manager, Eric Gardner, confirmed the news.
Belzer's Career and Famous Role
Belzer’s acting career spanned several decades, with his role as detective John Munch being his most memorable.
The character was introduced in “Homicide: Life on the Street,” which ran for seven seasons and was followed by a movie. Munch's character was also featured in “Law and Order: Victims Unit,” which ran for 15 seasons.
Belzer, who shared many traits with his character, said in a recent interview that he enjoyed playing the role of Munch. He stated, “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”.
Belzer's Impact on TV
Belzer's portrayal of Munch made him one of television’s most recognizable detectives. In a statement, “Law & Order” producer Dick Wolf said, “Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional, and we will all miss him very much”.
Belzer played the character of Munch in 11 different shows over 22 years, an achievement never before accomplished by an actor playing a fictional character in television history.
Memories from Colleagues and Friends
Several of Belzer’s colleagues and friends, including Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Billy Crystal, Richard Lewis, and Laraine Newman, paid tribute to the actor on social media.
Hargitay wrote on Instagram, “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”.
Comedian and musician Paul Shaffer also shared his fond memories of Belzer, stating, “I don’t think there’s a comic of our generation who wouldn’t cite Richard Belzer, as not only a major influence, but as absolutely the funniest guy.
Now, everybody moves up one”. Belzer, who was loved by many for his unique sense of humor and talent, will be remembered by his colleagues and fans for his contribution to the entertainment industry.