Richard Jay Belzer (August 4, 1944 – February 19, 2023) was an American actor, comedian and author. He was best known for his role as BPD Detective, NYPD Detective/sergeant and investigator John Munch, whom he portrayed for 23 years in the NBC police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and several guest appearances on other series.
Richard Belzer Early Life
Richard Jay Belzer was born on August 4, 1944, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was the son of Beatrice (née Belzer) and Charles Belzer, a candy store owner. Belzer had a difficult childhood; his father was an alcoholic who was physically abusive to his mother and siblings. Belzer’s parents divorced when he was 12 years old.
Richard Belzer Career
Belzer began his career as a stand-up comedian in the early 1970s. He was a regular performer at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. In 1975, he was hired as the first audience warm-up act for Saturday Night Live. He remained with the show for two seasons.
In 1993, Belzer was cast as Detective John Munch in the NBC police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street. He played the role for seven seasons. In 1999, Munch was transferred to the Law & Order franchise, where he appeared in both Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He continued to play the role of Munch until 2015.
In addition to his work on television, Belzer has appeared in numerous films, including Thelma and Louise (1991), Cop Land (1997), and Scary Movie 3 (2003). He has also written several books, including Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1994), which was based on his experiences on the Homicide: Life on the Street set.
Richard Belzer’s Personal Life
Belzer was married four times. His first marriage was to actress Audrey Landers from 1976 to 1977. His second marriage was to actress Shari Belafonte from 1985 to 1989. His third marriage was to actress Bonita Granville from 1990 to 1994. His fourth and final marriage was to Harlee McBride from 1998 until his death in 2023.
Richard Belzer Cause of Death
Richard Belzer died on February 19, 2023, at the age of 78. He had been battling respiratory and circulatory problems for several years.
Richard Belzer Net Worth
Richard Belzer’s net worth was estimated to be $16 million at the time of his death.
Richard Belzer was a versatile and talented performer who had a long and successful career in show business. He was best known for his role as Detective John Munch, but he also made significant contributions to the world of stand-up comedy and activism. Belzer will be remembered as one of the most iconic and influential figures in American entertainment.