Richard Belzer, best known for playing John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU, has died at the age of 78.
Belzer died Sunday at his home in France, a friend of the actor confirms to The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘F–k you, motherf–er.'”
“Richard Belzer was the first actor to welcome me when I started at SVU,” executive producer Warren Leight tweeted on Sunday. “Open, warm, acerbic, whip smart, surprisingly kind. I loved writing for Munch, and I loved being with Belz. We sensed this would be his parting scene. Godspeed Belz.” (Watch the video above.)
NBC and Universal Television released the following statement shortly after news of Belzer’s passing broke: “Anyone who ever had the pleasure of watching Richard Belzer portray Det. John Munch — whether on Homicide or Law & Order: SVU – over four decades will never forget how much he inhabited that beloved character to make it his own. His professionalism, talents and dedication to the craft made him a pillar in the industry, but it was his humor, compassion and loving heart that made him family. Our condolences go out to his loved ones as we join them in mourning his loss, but also in celebrating his memory.”
“I’m so sad to hear of Richard Belzer’s passing,” actress Laraine Newman tweeted. 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.”
Belzer will forever be remembered for playing John Munch, a role he originated on Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999, before relocating him to Law & Order: SVU from 1999 to 2016. Combining his run on those two shows, as well as his appearances in their various spinoffs and TV movies, Belzer played this character for nearly 25 years.
In addition to playing Munch (a role he also took to an episode of The X-Files), Belzer’s TV resume includes recurring roles and memorable appearances on shows like The Flash (the original), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Miami Vice, Moonlighting, South Park and The Wire.
How will you remember Belzer? Drop a comment with your favorite role (or episode of SVU) below.