Richard Lewis from 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' dies at 76

February 29, 2024 - Reading time: 2 minutes

Richard Lewis, one of America’s most beloved and revered stand-up comics who also played a fictionalized version of himself on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, died Tuesday night at his home in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack.

He was 76. His death was confirmed by his publicist Jeff Abraham. Lewis had been living with Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis he revealed 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. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

Born Richard Philip Lewis on June 29, 1947, in Brooklyn and raised in Englewood, NJ, Lewis — after a childhood he would describe as difficult — graduated from Ohio State University before landing in the New York and Los Angeles comedy scenes of the 1970s. There, he took his place along such soon-to-be-stars as Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer and Elayne Boosler, and quickly became a favorite of late-night shows including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

He soon developed a singular stage persona nearly as dark as the all-black clothes he favored. His stand-up performances could best be described as straddling comedy and therapy. Lewis’ website prominently features a quote from comedy great Mel Brooks: “Richard Lewis may just be the Franz Kafka of modern-day comedy.”

Self-deprecating, razor-sharp and brutally honest about his addictions and neuroses, Lewis was the rare comic who could rival the curmudgeonly but highly relatable outlook on life honed by his longtime pal and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Larry David.

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

TV comedy specials followed, his first Showtime special, pointedly titled The Prince of Pain

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