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Legendary Comic And Television Star Richard Lewis Dies.

Richard Lewis, a veteran of stand up comedy and mainstay on the hit show Curb Your Enthusiasm passed away peacefully earlier this afternoon. He was 76 years old.

Lewis’ family said that the comedian passed away peacefully from a heart attack in his sleep. The comedian known for his sardonic takes on life and his neurotic persona had retired from stand up comedy in 2023 after a private struggle with Parkinson’s disease.¬†

A Traditional Upbringing

Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York to Father Bill; the owner of a catering business, and mother Blanche; a community theater actress.

He was raised in Englewood, New Jersey where he attended  Dwight Morrow High School. After 4 years of being class clown, Lewis got serious for a moment and went to Ohio State University where he would graduate with a degree in marketing.

Early Career

The entertainment history of Richard Lewis dates back to 1971 where he would try stand-up comedy for the first time in Greewich Village, New York. He would soon be discovered by another legendary comedian; David Brenner. Brenner would take Lewis under his wing and introduce him to the comedy clubs in Los Angeles.

His talent would get him noticed. Richard Lewis would soon be invited to a set on The Tonight Show: With Johnny Carson, an opportunity coveted by every stand-up comedian at the time.

Legendary Comedian David Brenner Discovered Richard Lewis In New York City. He Would Soon Take Him Under His Wing.

Publications such as¬†The New York Daily News praised his comedic talent and proclaimed him to be a rising star in a “class” of new comedians that included:

  • George Carlin
  • Richard Belzer
  • Andy Kaufman
  • Robert Klein
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Richard Pryor
  • and Elayne Boosler.

His comedy was dark, self deprecating and known for his wild gesticulations. He would make his screen acting debut in 1979 in¬†Diary of a Young Comic.¬†It was a satirical look at the life of comedians in the L.A. area. Comedy Central put Lewis at number 45 on the channel’s 2004 special: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups Of All Time.

Career On Screen

Lewis had a decent, but not stellar career in both television and film. He was a fixture on the late-night television circuit and Howard Stern’s radio program. He had the opportunity to make it with two sitcoms. The first was¬†Daddy Dearest starring alongside the legendary Don Rickles. The second show was¬†Hiller and Diller where he would star alongside fellow stand up comedian and friend Kevin Nealon.

Neither show would make it past the first season.

The role most geeks will remember him for on screen will most likely be Robin Hood: Men In Tights. The Mel Brooks classic featured Cary Elwes, Amy Yasbek, Tracy Ullman and a young Dave Chapelle. Lewis felt right at home portraying Prince John in a neurotic Manner while also being blissfully unaware of the giant mole that would appear on different parts of his face.

Lewis In A Scene From “Robin Hood: Men In Tights.”

He had a lot of guest spots and did a decent amount of voiceover work before agreeing to play a hyperbolized version of himself on Larry David’s hit show:¬†Curb Your Enthusiasm where he would frequently get into ethical arguments with Larry. Part of the reason as to why his solo ventures never worked out may have been his struggles with substance abuse.

Lewis never shied away from discussing his issues regarding substance abuse. He had a wakeup call in 1994 when he starred alongside John Candy in the poorly received western-comedy, Wagons East. Candy passed away during the last days of production and this caused Lewis to do some serious soul searching. After one last trip to the emergency room due to a cocaine overdose, Richard Lewis would seek the help that he needed and go into recovery.

Legacy/Final Takeaway

When you take away the drug addiction, Richard Lewis was a hero for millions of comedy fans who have to deal with the same mental issues that he did. For him to have the restrictive mental illnesses that he did and STILL get up on that stage every single night and just kill it in legendary fashion is nothing short of inspirational

In an era where it was very easy to have swept his issues with addiction under the rug, it was admirable to see him take his own mask off and be open about the struggles that he faces every day.

Despite constantly being down on himself, Lewis was well liked by the people that worked with him even if he didn’t know it.

One last quote from Richard Lewis: “I was way more comfortable in front of strangers than I was with relatives. So when they would laugh at my dysfunctions or my anxiety, I felt less alone, and I still do it for the same reason.”

You were never alone Richard. Your fans and your community loved you.

I’d say safe home; but you were so neurotic, you probably put a seatbelt on subconsciously during the heart attack. I’ll just say: There wasn’t anybody like you when you were alive and there will never be another comic like you ever again. You were one of a kind, and will be missed by your fans.

Kick your feet up and get some well deserved rest.

What do you think, GNN Fans? Sound off in the comments below and let your voices be heard!

Thank You for reading! When I am not writing I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my four year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles.  For more hot takes, follow me here and on our brand new YouTube channel.  You can also check out more of my content on my author’s page.

Stay Geeky Everybody

 

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