Richard Belzer, comedian and ‘Law & Order: SVU’ actor, dies at age 78

Actor Richard Belzer, a core member of the “Law & Order” network behemoth, has died at age 78.

He was known for sporting his tinted glasses and doling out his cynical takes as Detective John Munch on the franchise’s “Law & Order: SVU” spinoff, which has aired for a record-breaking(Opens in a new tab) 24 years and remains one of the most watched programs on television.

Belzer’s death was announced by friends and Hollywood peers on social media, who shared memories from the actor’s long career. No further information on his passing has been released, other than a statement to The Hollywood Reporter(Opens in a new tab) that he had suffered from “lots of health issues.”

In a statement to Variety(Opens in a new tab), show creator Dick Wolf said, “Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch is one of television’s iconic characters… Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional and we will all miss him very much.”

The role of Detective Munch was history-making in its own right — Munch appeared in more television series (nine total) than any other fictional character. Belzer played the role for 21 years, originating the acerbic detective on the 1993 show Homicide: Life on the Street. Belzer departed from the role on “SVU” in 2013, but briefly returned to the show in 2016 and continued a series of guest spots across a variety of shows. Prior to his detective role, Belzer was known for his comedic talents as both an actor and stand-up comedian.

While long-time fans mourn the “Law & Order” loss, Belzer’s friend and writer Bill Scheft said he left the world with one final Munch-ian line(Opens in a new tab): “Fuck you, motherfucker.”

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