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Law & Order: SVU Star Richard Belzer Dead At 78

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Richard Belzer, an acclaimed comedian known for his role as Detective John Munch in Law & Order: SVU, has sadly passed away. He was 78 years old.

Former Late Show with David Letterman writer Bill Scheft confirmed the sad news, telling The Hollywood Reporter that the actor died at his home in Bozouls in southwest France early Sunday:

“He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘F**k you, motherf**ker.’”

A cause of death for Richard has not been revealed at this time. As you may know, the star was known for playing the beloved Detective Munch across ten series for 23 years. The character first appeared in the 1993 NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street before moving on to notably Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and appearing in Law & Order: Trial by Jury, 30 Rock, The X-Files, Arrested Development, The Wire, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Richard began his career as a comedian, working as the warm-up act on Saturday Night Live between 1975 to 1980 and performing on the National Lampoon Radio Hour.

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Following the news of his death, several of his friends and former co-stars took to social media to pay tribute to him. Law & Order creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said in a statement:

“Richard Belzer’s detective John Munch is one of television’s iconic characters. I first worked with Richard on the Law & Order/Homicide crossover and loved the character so much, I told Tom (Fontana) that I wanted to make him one of the original characters on SVU. The rest is history. Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional, and we will all miss him very much.”

His Law & Order: SVU castmate Mariska Hargitay wrote on Instagram:

“Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. 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.”

Co-star Christopher Meloni also shared a picture of Mariska feeding Richard on set of their show and a photo of him kissing the actor’s cheek. See the tribute (below):

SNL OG Laraine Newman also said:

“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 York 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.”

Our hearts go out to Richard’s friends and family during this difficult time. R.I.P.

[Image via Dan Jackman/WENN, Law & Order/YouTube]

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