Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T and S. Epatha Merkerson all paid tribute to the actor behind John Munch.
Richard Belzer, the retired comedian and actor best known for his role as Det. John Munch on shows like “Law & Order: SVU” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” he died on sunday at his home in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France. He was 78 years old.
Immediately after news of the beloved actor’s death broke, several of Belzer’s friends and colleagues paid tribute on social media. Current and veteran members of the “Law & Order” franchise have shared words and images in honor of Belzer, including Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, S. Epatha Merkerson, Diane Neal, Ice-T, “SVU” showrunner Warren Leight and many others the longstanding procedural.
In a statement from Wolf Entertainment, the production company behind “Law & Order,” franchise creator Dick Wolf called Belzer’s Munch “one of the most iconic characters on television” and praised the actor for “bringing humor and joy to our lives.”
The actor was thanked by friends and co-stars including his cousin Henry Winkler, Larraine Newman, George Wallace and Natasha Lyonne.
Belzer first played Munch in the 1993 premiere episode of David Simon’s “Homicide: Life on the Street,” a cynical but good-hearted detective prone to believing in conspiracy theories. After staying on the procedural for seven seasons and a spin-off movie, Munch switched from “Homicide” to “Law & Order: SVU” in 1999 and remained a regular on the spinoff through its 15th season. In 2016, he made his last television appearance in an episode of the 17th season of the series.
Between his first and last appearances, Belzer guest starred as Munch on Law & Order, Arrested Development, The X-Files, The Beat, The Wire, 30 Rock, Law & Order: Trial by Jury” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. In total, Belzer played Munch for 22 seasons of television, making him one of TV’s longest-running live-action characters.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1944, the actor worked as a reporter for the local paper before moving to New York in the 1970s to pursue a career as a comedian. He became a regular at stand-up venues such as the Pips, the Improv and Catch a Rising Star, and made his film debut in 1974 with ‘The Groove Tube’, an independent film for the Channel One comedy group. He served as a warm-up comic on early seasons of “Saturday Night Live” and made a few appearances on the sketch series. He was also a fixture on the ’70s ‘National Lampoon Radio Hour’ and hosted his own radio show, ‘Brink & Belzer’.
In addition to Munch, Belzer’s other TV credits include the 1990 series “The Flash,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” and guest appearances on shows such as “Moonlighting,” “Miami Vice,” “The Larry Sanders Show ,” and “Mad About You.” In film, he has had supporting roles in films such as ‘Fame’, ‘Scarface’, ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’, ‘A Very Brady Sequel’, ‘Night Shift’, ‘North’ and Spike Lee’s ‘Get on the Bus’ in his movie. .”
Belzer is survived by his third wife and “Homicide: Life on the Street” cast member Harlee McBride and two stepdaughters.
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