Richard Belzer dies at 78

Richard Belzer, a well-known stand-up comedian who also portrayed the iconic TV detective John Munch in Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU, has passed away at the age of 78.

Belzer died on Sunday at his residence in Bozouls, France, as announced by his friend Bill Scheft, and confirmed by fellow comedian Laraine Newman and actor Henry Winkler.

Belzer had played the role of John Munch for over two decades and across 10 TV shows, even appearing on hit shows like 30 Rock and Arrested Development.

He never auditioned for the role of John Munch, but was brought in by executive producer Barry Levinson after hearing him on The Howard Stern Show.

Belzer said that the character of John Munch resonated with him due to his own "paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories.

Belzer authored the novel "I Am Not a Cop!" in 2008, co-written with Michael Ian Black, and helped write books on conspiracy theories, including ones on President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Belzer began his career in stand-up comedy in 1972 in New York, after being expelled from Dean Junior College in Massachusetts.

Belzer worked with famous comedians like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray on the National Lampoon Radio Hour and was the warm-up comic for Saturday Night Live's debut season