Richard Belzer, best known for his portrayal of cynical detective John Munch on the hit crime series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has passed away at the age of 78.
Longtime friend, Bill Scheft confirmed Belzer’s death to The Hollywood Reporter, telling the publication he died on Sunday, February 19 at his home in southwest France.
Sheft revealed that Belzer “had lots of health issues” while sharing the late actor’s notable last words.
“His last words were, ‘F*#k you, motherf*#ker,’” Scheft said.
Born August 4, 1944, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Belzer first began work as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post before making the move into stand-up comedy.
Following his first divorce, Belzer made the move to New York City and began performing as a stand-up comic, eventually securing the role of the warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live in which he made three guest appearances on the show between 1975 and 1980.
Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Belzer made several minor appearances in films such as Fame, Café Flesh, Night Shift, and Scarface.
Following appearances in television shows such as The Flash and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Belzer secured his most notable role, that of police detective John Munch.
Belzer first portrayed Munch in the American police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999 before portraying the character yet again on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 1999 with his last appearance as the character in 2016.
Incredibly, Belzer portrayed Munch for 22 consecutive seasons of television, 7 seasons on Homicide: Life on the Street, and 15 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
As news broke of Belzer’s passing, fans and colleagues alike to social media to honour the life and legacy of the late star.
Anyone who had the pleasure of watching Richard Belzer portray Det. John Munch will never forget how much he inhabited that beloved character to make it his own. Our condolences go out to his loved ones as we join them in mourning his loss, but also in celebrating his memory. pic.twitter.com/ZhygF6ODhE
— ???????????? & ???????????????????? (@lawandordertv) February 19, 2023
Richard Belzer was always so kind to me. We met at comedy club he was performing in yrs before L&O. I was young with only one film into my career. He always remembered me.
I had the pleasure of hang’n with him a couple of times. Sweet sweet man & funny as hell. He will be missed pic.twitter.com/DZx5EKb6Wy
— Vincent D’Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) February 19, 2023
I’m sorry to hear we have lost Richard Belzer. I always adored him. As a starving comedian out on the fringes he would come to my dressing room whenever I hosted SNL in the 70’s and eat all the cheese and fruit plates. A very funny and dear man. Dammit.
— Eric Idle (@EricIdle) February 19, 2023
Sadly we lose the one of a kind Richard Belzer. 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 Fuck’em.
— Lewis Black (@TheLewisBlack) February 19, 2023
goodnight sergeant john munch, may richard belzer’s memory be a blessing pic.twitter.com/nTsmrDwLQV
— pj (@seIinameyer) February 20, 2023
Richard Belzer was one of the most kindest and welcoming actors when I guested on two episodes of Law and Order: SVU. His passing is truly a loss for Hollywood and I will miss him dearly. RIP Richard Belzer. pic.twitter.com/oI4PzLr04I
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) February 19, 2023
R.I.P. Richard Belzer pic.twitter.com/8pq9zUC8wi
— Richard Pryor (@richardpryor) February 19, 2023
made me laugh.
showed me how precious, beautiful and ridiculous it all is.
taught me to hit a speed bag.
made me a Rolling Stones fan.
taught me grace.
opened your home.
made me laugh.
made us laugh.
Love you, Belz#RichardBelzer
— Danny Pino (@TheDannyPino) February 20, 2023
Belzer is survived by his wife, Harlee McBride.