The tributes from across the acting industry have poured in for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit star Richard Belzer after he died at the age of 78 on Sunday.
Mariska Hargitay, the famous lead of SVU who has played Olivia Benson for nearly a quarter century, posted a tribute to her former cast mate her Instagram page.
‘Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world,’ she wrote.
‘I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I love you so very much, now and forever.’
Fellow SVU star Christopher Meloni posted a picture of the pair together and simply wrote: ‘Good bye mon ami, I love you.’ He later posted a photo of Belzer and Hargitay together from the show’s early years.
Belzer is pictured with his Law and Order: SVU costar Mariska Hargitay in 2000
The tributes are pouring in to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit star Richard Belzer from fellow cast mates and his fellow actors and comedians after he died at the age of 78 on Sunday
Ice T, the rap superstar who teamed up with Belzer as Fin Tutuola, shared his thoughts on Belzer’s death Sunday afternoon.
‘Highs and Lows… After one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I wake up to the news I lost my friend today. Belz is gone.. Damn it!’
Ice added: ‘But remember this..When you ARE having real fun and are Truly Happy. ENJOY it to the fullest! Cause Pain is inevitably coming. I’ll miss you Homie.’
Celebrities from other walks of life also paid tribute.
‘Sadly, we lose the one of a kind Richard Belzer,’ wrote comic Lewis Black. ‘The Belz was a pleasure and I was lucky to work with him as an actor and a comic. He was intelligent as he was funny and to watch him perform was to know why they had to come up with the word sardonic. Bon Voyage. And f**k ’em.’
SNL legend Laraine Newman added: ‘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 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 Belzer was one of the most kindest and welcoming actors when I guested on two episodes of Law & Order: SVU,’ wrote Oscar winner Marlee Matlin. ‘His passing is truly a loss for Hollywood and I will miss him dearly.’
Vincent D’Onofrio, who starred on fellow Law & Order spinoff Criminal Intent, added: ‘Richard Belzer was always so kind to me. Sweet sweet man & funny as hell. He will be missed.’
The actor started off as a comedian, but gained fame for his role as Detective John Munch, first on Homicide Life on the Streets and then on SVU. He also appeared on the original Law and Order and Trial by Jury.
In total, Belzer played Munch on 11 different shows over the course of 22 years, including the X-Files, Arrested Development, The Wire and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
He died in at his home early Sunday in Bozouls in southwest France after battling a series of health issues.
Comedian Billy Crystal tweeted, ‘Richard Belzer was simply hilarious. A genius at handling a crowd. So sad he’s passed away.’
‘His last words were, ‘F**k you, motherf**ker,” writer Bill Scheft told The Hollywood Reporter.
Richard Belzer, known for playing Det. John Munch on 11 different shows, has died at the age of 78
He played the role of Det. John Munch on 11 different shows over 22 years, including Law and Order: SVU. He is pictured here on set with Mariska Hargitay
And actor Adrian Martinez wrote that Belzer ‘was one of the first stars to encourage me to keep going by saying after my work on #LawAndOrderSVU. ‘I smell an #Emmys!”
He went on to call Belzer a ‘funny, classy man.’
Marc Maron added to the outpouring of tributes, writing, ‘Richard Belzer died. He was an original. One of the greats, babe. I loved the guy. RIP.’
Belzer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he said he began his foray into comedy by trying to make his physically abusive mother laugh.
‘I had to make my mom laugh or I’d get my a** kicked,’ he told People Magazine in 1993.
But his ‘uncontrollable wit’ got him into trouble in school, and his time at Massachusetts’ Dean Junior College came to a sudden end when he was expelled from organizing on-campus protests.
Prior to making his career in Hollywood, Belzer held a number of odd jobs, including as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post and as a census taker.
He finally decided to pursue comedy after his father committed suicide in 1968, responding to an ad in The Village Voice to audition for Channel One, an East Village comedy troupe.
Belzer would go on to perform the bits he had honed growing up — including imitations of Marlon Brando, Jerry Lewis and Bob Dylan — at a variety of Manhattan comedy clubs.
Belzer has attributed his comedy career to trying to make his abusive mother laugh
Following a divorce, Belzer moved to New York City and began his stand-up career
Belzer is pictured with the late Robin Williams at his radio show in 1995
By 1972, Belzer was a featured player on National Lampoon Radio Hour with costars John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner.
Several of the skits were later released on albums, including several bits where Belzer played a pithy call-in talk show host named Dick Ballentine.
He also had small film roles and made three guest appearances on Saturday Night Love from 1975 through 1980, and was its first comedian.
‘It was thrilling in those days to be a part of that because — regardless of what anyone said — a lot of people didn’t know how that was going to be accepted,’ he told NPR in 1989. ‘This was like giving the kids the keys to the store — to have all of these ‘anti-establishment’ people have a TV show on a network.
‘So they asked me to do some sketches and do the warm-ups. I just kind of did what I did in nightclubs, I talked to the audience, I did some of my material, but I tried to improvise and ad lib as much as I could.
‘And it was fascinating, doing that in a television studio and not in a nightclub.’
He also hosted a short-lived Lifetime talk show, called Hot Properties.
The actor had requested that the professional wrestler appear on his show in 1985, just days before the inaugural WrestleMania.
When he asked Hogan to show him one of his signature moves, Hogan put Belzer in a chin lock, which caused him to pass out. Then when Hogan finally released him. Belzer hit his head on the floor, sustaining a laceration to the scalp that required a brief hospitalization.
He sued Hogan for $5million, and they settled out of court.
‘He came very close to killing me,’ Belzer said in 1990. ‘I was told by a sports medicine expert that if I had fallen a few inches either way, I could have been crippled for life. I could have died.’
His big break came as Detective John Munch in Homicide: Life on the Street
Belzer is pictured on the set of Homicide: Life on the Streets with Andre Braugher in 1996
Belzer would go on to reprise the role in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, working with ICE-T
Rob Reiner and Richard Belzer at the podium during the Comedy Central/New York Friars Club Roast of Rob Reiner
But Belzer’s true success came on television.
He started off with minor roles in the 1990s, appearing as a news anchor on The Flash and Inspector William Henderson in several episodes of Lois & Clark and the New Adventures of Superman.
His big break came in 1993 when he starred in Homicide: Life on the Street as Det. John Munch, later reprising the role in Law and Order and Law and Order: SVU.
The many appearances of Det. John Munch
- Homicide: Life on the Street
- Law & Order
- The X-Files
- The Beat
- Law & Order: Trial by Jury
- Arrested Development
- The Wire
- 30 Rock
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- Jimmy Kimmel Live!
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
‘When Homicide was canceled, I was in France with my wife and she said, ‘Let’s open a bottle of champagne and toast. You did this character for seven years,” Belzer recounted in the 2009 book Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion.
‘And then I remembered that Benjamin Bratt was leaving L&O and so I called my manager and said, ‘Call Dick Wolf — maybe Munch can become Briscoe’s partner’ because we had teamed for the crossover.
‘So he called and Dick said, ‘What a great idea, but I’ve already cast Jesse Martin to be the new guy,;
But Wolf was in the process of developing a spinoff series based on the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, which investigates sexually-based crimes.
He thought Belzer would be perfect for the role — and he was, starring in the show for 14 seasons.
In total, Belzer played the acerbic detective for 22 consecutive seasons, exceeding the previous prime time record of 20 consecutive seasons held by James Arness — who played Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1975, and Kelsey Grammer — who played Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers then on Frasier
That record has since been beaten by his Law and Order: SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay.
He also played Munch in a 1977 episode of the X-Files that dealt with the origins of one of the show’s main conspiracy theorists, as well as appearances on Arrested Development, The Wire and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
A puppet that looked like the detective even once showed up on Sesame Street.
‘I never asked anyone to be on their show. So it’s doubly flattering to me to see me depicted in a script and that I’m so recognizable and lovable as the sarcastic detective and smart a**,’ Belzer said in a 2008 interview. ‘Much to my delight because he is a great character for me to play. It’s fun for me.
‘So I’m not upset about being typecast at all.’
The character ultimately announced his retirement in 2014, but Munch returned a couple years later in the 17th season.
Just recently, Belzer’s character was mentioned in an episode of Law and Order: SVU, when ICE T’s character talked about his old partner, Munch.
ICE T, who plays Fin on the show, said Munch had gone back to Baltimore — where Homicide Life on the Streets took place — opened a bar and was happily married.
Belzer was last seen on the show in 2016.
Belzer, left, played the role of Detective John Munch for 22 consecutive seasons
Belzer appeared as the detective with ICE-T in an episode of 30 Rock
In his personal life, Belzer was a known conspiracy theorist, writing four different books about his beliefs. He was also a regular on Alex Jones’ show, once referring to the Boston Marathon bombing as a false flag event.
He was married three times throughout his life, and previously survived testicular cancer
He retired from acting in 2016, and has been living in the South of France for the past few years.
The actor was predeceased by his mother in 1964, his father, and his brother, Leonard, who died by suicide in 2014.
He is survived by his third wife, Harlee McBride, with whom he was married in 1985, and stepdaughters Jessica and Bree.
Read the full article here
Discussion about this post