Comic Richard Lewis, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ actor, dead at 76

Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis, a beloved stand-up comic who played a fictionalized version of himself on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” died Tuesday. He was 76.

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Lewis’ death was confirmed by Variety, Deadline and The Associated Press. He died at his home in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack, his publicist Jeff Abraham, told the AP.

“His wife, Joyce Lapinsky, thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and asks for privacy at this time,” Abraham said in a statement, according to Deadline.

He most recently appeared in Season 12 of Larry David’s show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Variety reported.

Lewis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021, according to The New York Times.

Known for his dark clothes and equally dark humor, Lewis got his start as a standup in New York and Los Angeles during the 1970s, Deadline reported. He was a favorite on late-night talk shows and was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” according to the entertainment news website.

He also was a staple on talk shows hosted on television by David Letterman and Jay Leno and on radio by Howard Stern, Deadline reported.

Lewis also played Marty Gold on the 1989 television series “Anything But Love” and played Prince John in “Robin Hood: Men In Tights,” according to the AP.

Lewis made his acting debut in the 1979 special, “Diary of a Young Comic,” Deadline reported.

Lewis announced in 2021 that he would not appear in Season 11 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” so he could recover from three surgeries, Variety reported. He made a surprise appearance in one episode.

“When I walked in and they applauded, I felt like a million bucks,” Lewis told Variety at the time. “Larry doesn’t like to hug, and he hugged me and told me how happy he was after we shot our scene.”

Lewis was cast in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2000 by David, his childhood friend, according to Deadline. The two met at a summer camp when they were 12 years old.

In a statement, David mourned the loss of his friend, “Today” reported.

“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me,” David said. “He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

Lewis showcased his persona in his 1985 Showtime comedy special, “I’m in Pain,” according to Variety. He followed it up with three HBO comedy specials: “I’m Exhausted” (1988), “I’m Doomed” (1990) and “Richard Lewis: The Magical Misery Tour” (1997).

Comedy Central dubbed Lewis as one of the top 50 stand-up comedians of all time, the AP reported. He was also included in GQ magazine’s list of the “20th Century’s Most Influential Humorists.”

Lewis had a long battle with substance abuse and admitted he was high when he performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1989, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lewis was rushed to a hospital two years later after mixing drugs and alcohol, and the experience forced him to become sober, the entertainment news website reported.

He wrote about his recovery in his 2000 autobiography, “The Other Great Depression: How I’m Overcoming, on a Daily Basis, at Least a Million Addictions and Dysfunctions and Finding a Spiritual (Sometimes) Life.

In a statement, HBO said the network was “heartbroken” to hear of Lewis’ death.

“We are heartbroken to learn that Richard Lewis has passed away,” the statement read, according to “Today.” “His comedic brilliance, wit and talent were unmatched. Richard will always be a cherished member of the HBO and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ families, our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and all the fans who could count on Richard to brighten their days with laughter.”

Hollywood celebrities, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Cheryl Hines, Mark Hamill, Tim Allen, Adam Carolla and Jeff Ross, paid tribute to Lewis on social media.

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