Richard Lewis ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star and comedian dead at 76

Richard Lewis, the critically acclaimed stand-up comic known for his droll delivery and brutal candor, has died. He was 76.

The actor revealed in 2023 that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, recommitting himself at the time to working on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” alongside his longtime friend Larry David, the show’s star and creator.

He died peacefully in his home in Los Angeles Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack, his publicist, Jeff Abraham, told the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

Lewis is co-starring in the final season of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO. David said Wednesday he was mourning his lifelong friend’s death.

“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. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest,” David said in a statement. “But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

Lewis, born in Brooklyn and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, first tried his hand at stand-up in New York City in the early 1970s — alongside the likes of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer and Elayne Boosler — before making a career of it when he was discovered by comedian David Brenner.

By the middle of the decade, he had already appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He was immediately recognized as a dark comic, literally and figuratively, known for his all-black getups and performing frequently self-loathing sets about his neuroses and addictions.

Lewis made his TV debut with “Diary of a Young Comic,” a 90-minute movie that took the place of “Saturday Night Live” on NBC in 1979, but really rose to prominence with his continued late-night appearances during the ’80s and ’90s.

He became a veritable rock star of the comedy world in those decades, starring in multiple stand-up specials on Showtime and HBO, while making high-profile appearances on specials such as the Comic Relief charitable fundraisers.

He starred alongside Jamie Lee Curtis in the sitcom “Anything but Love,” which aired from 1988 to 1992, before landing roles in a few short-lived sitcoms and movies throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In a tribute to Lewis posted on Instagram, Curtis said the actor “blew everyone else away” during his audition and “got the part when I snort laughed when he mispronounced the word Bundt cake.”

Lewis was also known for his close friendship with David, whom he met at summer camp when they were 13 years old. The two remained close throughout their careers and often collaborated on projects, most notably “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” where Lewis played a semi-fictionalized version of himself as David’s neurotic and loyal friend.

Lewis had to take a break from starring in Season 11 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” due to a series of surgeries, but returned for the final season, which is currently airing on HBO.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky, whom he married in 2005. Lapinsky “thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and asks for privacy at this time,” according to the statement shared by Abraham.

Lewis was widely admired and respected by his peers and fans, who praised his honesty, wit and generosity. He was also an outspoken advocate for sobriety, having struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction for years before getting clean in 1994.

He once said, “The day I got sober was the day I became a better comedian.”

Related Articles

Back to top button