Was Richard Belzer sick? His many health issues detailed

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer, famous for portraying Detective John Munch in several television shows, ‘passed away peacefully’ on 19th February 2023, his manager Eric Gardner told CNN. Belzer didn’t audition for his most iconic role – executive producer Barry Levinson heard him on the Howard Stern show and invited him to read for the part. 

Belzer played Detective John Munch from 1993 to 2013. After his last episode, Belzer retreated from the public limelight and moved to a house in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, where he spent his final days working on a documentary about his life with longtime friend Bill Scheft. 

Belzer reportedly suffered from circulatory and respiratory illnesses

Bill Scheft revealed that Belzer suffered many health issues, including circulatory and respiratory illnesses. “He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘Fuck you, motherfucker,” Scheft told The Hollywood Reporter

Per The Washington Post, Belzer beat testicular cancer in the 1980s. The outlet reports that Belzer discovered a lump on his right testicle while bathing. As usual, he approached the illness with characteristic humor. 

“Being diagnosed with testicular cancer was like a cosmic slap in the face,” Belzer told the outlet. “My reaction was, ‘How do I get rid of it, and can I have sex?’”

Belzer laughed away the tragedies in his life. His mother died of cancer, and his father committed suicide before Belzer turned 25. Leonard, Belzer’s brother and a fellow comedian, killed himself in 2014. Belzer demeanor rarely changed, but the deaths of his family doubtlessly hurt him. 

Belzer’s cause of death remains unclear, but we suspect it’s tied to his health problems. Law & Order posted the following tribute to Belzer:

“His professionalism, talents and dedication to the craft made him a pillar in the industry, but it was his humor, compassion and loving heart that made him family. Our condolences go out to his loved ones as we join them in mourning his loss, but also in celebrating his memory.”

Mariska Hargitay, Belzer’s SVU castmate, wrote on Instagram: “Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I can hear them laughing already.”