I was sad to see that Richard Belzer died today, aged 78. Belzer first rose to prominence as a stand-up comic, but he became famous with a capital F when he was cast as television’s sardonic Detective Munch, a character he played on two different shows — Homicide and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — over a span of 23 years.
Belzer was definitely the highlight of any episode he was in, and I became a big fan during my days of working from home with the TV on in the background. I wrote a whopping six blog posts either about or mentioning Belzer. By far the best post was written after MrB’s loud laugh attracted Belzer’s attention in a restaurant, resulting in this voicemail.
DETECTIVE MUNCH CALLED ME FROM LUNCH.
Despite my enthusiasm for Belzer’s television role, I never delved into his background. This Hollywood Reporter obituary covers his traumatic childhood; the time Hulk Hogan knocked him unconscious; and a job he took to pay for a Hawaiian vacation. It politely omits his promotion of JFK conspiracy theories and his endorsement of grotesque right-wing radio host Alex Jones. Dammit! I’m glad I discovered the latter facts posthumously.