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Richard Lewis, stand-up comic and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' star, dies at 76

Nardine Saad and Alexandra Del Rosario, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — Comedian Richard Lewis built a career on making himself a punchline, but in HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” sincerity was his specialty.

As a fictionalized version of himself, Lewis often injected the long-running cynical comedy with wholesome lines about the decadeslong friendship he shared with co-star Larry David. “When I die, I want you to know how much I care about you,” Lewis tells David in a minor squabble about his will during the show’s final season. “You’re my best friend.”

For more than 20 years, Lewis — often appearing in his signature dark clothing and round sunglasses — channeled his bond with David and his self-deprecating humor to become a beloved fixture on the comedy classic. Lewis died Tuesday “peacefully at his home in Los Angeles.” He was 76.

Lewis’ publicist Jeff Abraham confirmed to The Times that the comedian died after suffering a heart attack. “His wife, Joyce Lapinsky, thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and asks for privacy at this time,” Abraham said.

HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is just a part of Lewis’ legacy, which included a stand-up comedy career spanning decades, a memoir about his sobriety and appearances in Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “Leaving Las Vegas.”

In April 2023, Lewis detailed his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, which derailed his decadeslong stand-up comedy career. “After 50 years almost, I’m gonna just call it quits,” he said at the time.

 

“R.I.P. to a true original @TheRichardLewis,” comedian Bill Burr wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “An absolutely fearless comedian who did and said what he wanted.”

“His comedic brilliance, wit and talent were unmatched,” HBO said in a statement shared with Variety. “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.”

Lewis began his career in his 20s performing at New York’s Improv and was taken under the wing of David Brenner, who was known as the king of observational comedy. He found his footing in dark comedy, bringing his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction and his broken family to the stage.

“It’s great to be here, it’s great to be in a city that means more to me than my family, quite frankly,” he said to welcome audiences during a set in 1990.

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