Richard Belzer, comedian and ‘Law & Order’ star dead at 78

Richard Belzer, the edgy comedian known for his role as “Law & Order” detective John Munch, has died at 78. His last words were “F— you, motherf—er.”

Belzer died early Sunday at his home in the South of France, his pal and writer Bill Scheft told The Hollywood Reporter.

The actor played the role of Munch on multiple shows, including “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: SVU,” and had cameos in other shows like “The X Files.”

“He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘F–k you, motherf–er,’” Scheft said.

Belzer was part of the ensemble cast of “Law & Order: SVU.”
©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Belzer played the Munch character for 23 years.
Will Hart/NBC

Actor and comedian Richard Belzer is dead at 78.
Actor and comedian Richard Belzer is dead at 78.
© NBC Universal, Inc.

Belzer portrayed Munch for 23 years, beginning in 1993 and ending in 2016 when he retired from acting. He also appeared as Munch in shows as far-ranging as “The Wire” and “Arrested Development.”

“I never asked anyone to be on their show. So it’s doubly flattering to me to see me depicted in a script and that I’m so recognizable and lovable as the sarcastic detective and smart-ass,” Belzer told The Comic’s Comic in 2008. “Much to my delight, because he is a great character for me to play, it’s fun for me. So I’m not upset about typecast at all.”

While known for his jokes, Belzer’s life was plagued by tragedy: both his father and brother died by suicide. He also survived a bout of testicular cancer in 1983. His cause of death was not immediately known.

He is survived by his wife, actress Harlee McBride, and two stepdaughters.

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