Curb Your Enthusiasm star Richard Lewis has died at the age of 76

  • Written by Madeleine Halpert
  • BBC News, New York

Image source, Getty Images

Comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Richard Lewis has died at the age of 76.

His agent, Jeff Abraham, said in a statement that he died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening after suffering a heart attack.

Lewis announced last April that he had Parkinson's disease and would retire from comedy.

Known for his self-deprecating sense of humor, Lewis rose to prominence in the 1980s.

For years, the actor and writer starred alongside Larry David on his HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which he played a semi-fictionalized version of himself.

He recently appeared in Season 12 of the series, which is currently airing on HBO. The network said it was “saddened” when it learned of his death.

His spokesman told US media: “His comedic brilliance, intelligence and talent are unparalleled.”

In a statement released by Lewis's publicist, his wife, Joyce Lapinski, said she “thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and requests privacy at this time.”

His star, Larry David, praised his friend in a statement that HBO shared with US media.

He said: “Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital, and he has been like a brother to me for most of my life.” “He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest person. But today he made me cry and for that I will never forgive him.”

Nicknamed the “Prince of Pain”, Louis was known to poke fun at his neurological illness and obsessions during his comedy routines. He almost always dressed in black, and once joked that he was “the anxious Descartes; I am terrified, therefore I am.”

Lewis has also been open about his struggles with addiction and depression and has been sober for decades. His sassy attitude was well received among talk show hosts, and Lewis became a firm favorite with late-night legends David Letterman and Jay Leno.

Comedy Central has named him one of the 50 best stand-up comedians of all time, and GQ magazine included him on its list of the most influential comedians of the 20th century.

In 1979, he first appeared on the NBC special Diary of a Young Comic. The film follows the satirical journey of a young comedian seeking success in Los Angeles.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he starred in a range of television shows, including the sitcom Anything But Love, in which he played opposite Jamie Lee Curtis from 1989 to 1992.

But it was in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” where Lewis found his defining role. It premiered in 2000, and its mission to play a fictionalized version of himself won acclaim.

Lewis had to take a break from starring in Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm due to a series of surgeries.

“I've been going through a tough time,” he said last year as he announced the news of his diagnosis.

News of his death sparked a wave of tributes from a host of famous faces, including “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines.

In an Instagram post, Curtis described her former colleague as “so profound and funny.”

“He is also the reason I got sober. He helped me. I am forever grateful to him for this act of grace alone,” she said.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, fellow comedian Bill Burr called Lewis a “true original.”

“An utterly courageous comedian who did and said what he wanted,” Burr wrote.

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