Richard Lewis: Curb Your Enthusiasm star dies aged 76

Stand-up comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Richard Lewis has died aged 76.

He died peacefully in his home in Los Angeles Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack, his publicist, Jeff Abraham, said in a statement.

Lewis announced last April that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would retire from stand-up comedy.

Known for his self-deprecating humour, Lewis rose to prominence in the 1980s.

For years, the actor and writer starred alongside Larry David in his HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, where he played a semi-fictionalized version of himself.

He had most recently appeared in Season 12 of the show, which is currently airing on HBO. The network said it was “heartbroken” to learn he had passed.

“His comedic brilliance, wit and talent were unmatched,” a spokesperson told US outlets.

In a statement shared by Lewis’ publicist, his wife, Joyce Lapinsky, said she “thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and asks for privacy at this time”.

His co-star, Larry David, praised his friend in a statement HBO shared with US media.

“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 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.”

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, Lewis made a name for himself in the 1970s performing in clubs in New York City and on late-night TV.

Nicknamed “The Prince of Pain”, Lewis was known for poking fun at his own neuroses and hypochondria during his comedy routines. Dressed nearly always all in black, he once joked he was the “Descartes of anxiety; I panic, therefore I am”.

Lewis was also open about his struggles with addiction and depression and had been sober for decades. His edgy act found favour among talk show hosts, and Lewis became a firm favourite of late-night legends David Letterman and Jay Leno.

Comedy Central had called him one of the top 50 stand-up comedians of all time and GQ Magazine included him in its list of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Humourists.

In 1979, he made his acting debut in the NBC special Diary of a Young Comic. The film followed the satirical journey of a young comedian seeking to make it in Los Angeles.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he starred in a host of TV shows, including the sitcom Anything but Love, where he played opposite Jamie Lee Curtis from 1989 to 1992.

But it on Curb Your Enthusiasm where Lewis found his signature role. Premiering in 2000, his stint playing a fictionalized version of himself won plaudits.

Lewis had to take a break from starring in Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm due to a series of surgeries.

“I’ve had sort of a rocky time,” he said last year announcing the news of his diagnosis.

He added that he had undergone back surgery, shoulder surgery, shoulder replacement surgery and hip replacement surgery. “I had four surgeries, back to back to back… It was bad luck, but it’s life.”

News of his death prompted a stream of tributes from a host of famous faces, including Daily Show host Jon Stewart, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and Curb Your Enthusiasm actress Cheryl Hines.

In a post on Instagram, Curtis called her former co-star “deep and so freaking funny”.

“He also is the reason I am sober. He helped me. I am forever grateful for him for that act of grace alone,” she said.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, fellow comedian Bill Burr called Lewis a”true original”.

“An absolutely fearless comedian who did and said what he wanted”, Burr wrote.

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