Richard Belzer, the longtime stand-up comedian who became one of TV’s most indelible detectives as John Munch in “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: SVU,” has died. He was 78.
Belzer died Sunday at his home in Bozouls in southern France, his longtime friend Bill Scheft told The Hollywood Reporter. Comedian Laraine Newman first announced his death on Twitter. The actor Henry Winkler, Belzer’s cousin, wrote “Rest in peace Richard.”
For more than two decades and across 10 series — including even appearances on “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development” — Belzer played the wise-cracking homicide detective prone to conspiracy theories. Belzer first played Munch on a 1993 episode of “Homicide” and last played him in 2016 on “Law & Order: SVU.”
Belzer never auditioned for the role. After hearing him on “The Howard Stern Show,” executive producer Barry Levinson brought Belzer in to read for the part.
“I would never be a detective. But if I were, that’s how I’d be,” Belzer once said. “They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories. So it’s been a lot of fun for me. A dream, really.”