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Richard Lewis, Comedian and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Star, Dies at 76

Richard Lewis, Comedian and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Star, Dies at 76

Comedian Richard Lewis, who has made millions laugh with his humor and had a revival on Curb Your Enthusiasm, has died at 76 years old.

Lewis died on Tuesday night while at his home in Los Angeles. His death has been confirmed by his publicist, Jeff Abraham. Lewis had been living with Parkinson’s disease, which he revealed publicly back in April 2023.

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

Lewis started making inroads back in the 1970s, finding spots at beloved stand-up nightclubs all across the United States. Some of his earliest TV appearances were with David Letterman on his old NBC show, Late Night with David Letterman. Lewis also wore what became his usual black-suit outfit. Besides Letterman, Lewis also found himself sitting next to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the 1970s.

He was born Richard Philip Lewis in Brooklyn on June 29, 1947. Lewis worked alongside such comedy luminaries as Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer, and Elayne Boosler. They all were working their way up the top of the comedy food chain.

Lewis’ website prominently features a quote from comedy legend Mel Brooks. It reads, “Richard Lewis may just be the Franz Kafka of modern-day comedy.”

Richard Lewis Refined Comedy of Honesty

Lewis always appeared to be self-deprecating, razor-sharp, and brutally honest about his addictions and neurosis. As Deadline Hollywood puts it so eloquently, Lewis was the rare comic who could rival the curmudgeonly but highly relatable outlook on life honed by a longtime pal and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Larry David.

David offered this tribute to his friend as reported by Variety. “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.”

Actor Michael McKean shared on X (formerly Twitter), “Farewell, Richard Lewis. Procol Harum has lost another fan, and the rest of us have lost a very good man.”

Lewis made his acting debut in the 1979 NBC special Diary of a Young Comic, a 90-minute film aired in the Saturday Night Live slot. Lewis’ national profile grew significantly over the next two decades as his edgy observations were welcomed and celebrated by Letterman, Jay Leno, and, on radio, Howard Stern.

TV comedy specials followed, and his first Showtime special, pointedly titled I’m In Pain, aired in 1985. He became one of the premiere presences on HBO with comedy specials in 1988, 1990, and 1997.

Sitcoms, Movies Found Spots For Lewis

Although his humor was hardly fit for sitcoms of the era, he co-starred for several seasons in the late ’80s-early ’90s with Jamie Lee Curtis on Anything but Love, and with Don Rickles on 1993’s Daddy Dearest. In 1998, he co-starred with Kevin Nealon in the sitcom Hiller and Diller.

Film credits included 1993’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights, in which he played Prince John, and 1995’s Drunks. Also that year, he appeared in Leaving Las Vegas.

Lewis began what would arguably be his signature role–based, fittingly enough, on himself – in 2000 when he was cast by David on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. The two New Yorkers met at summer camp when they were 12 and re-established their friendship on the New York comedy circuit a decade later.

HBO said in a statement, “We are heartbroken to learn that Richard Lewis has passed away. 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.”