Richard Belzer was a pillar of Law & Order: SVU when the L&O spinoff first in 1999; he played a fan-favorite character, jaded investigator John Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street. Upon the announcement of Belzer’s passing at 78, his SVU co-stars and producers went to social media to express their condolences.
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“RIP my dear, dear friend,” series actress and executive producer Mariska Hargitay remarked. “I shall miss your distinct light and perspective on this odd planet. I consider myself fortunate to have known, admired, and collaborated with you for so many years.”
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Hargitay also mentioned the renowned wit of comedian Belzer. “The angels are very fortunate to have you. I can almost hear their laughter.”
Chris Meloni, another original SVU cast member, posted two candid photos with Balzer and Mariska Hargitay with the caption, “Goodbye, my friend. I adore you.”
Ice-T put a comment next to a picture of his character, Det. Fin Tutuola, and Belzer’s character, Munch.
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“After one of the most extraordinary weeks of my life. I awaken to the news that my buddy passed away today. Belz is gone. Fuck it!” tweeted Ice-T, who got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at a ceremony attended by Hargitay two days before. “I’ll miss you Homie.”
Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order and brand steward, explained in a statement how Belzer’s Munch wound up on SVU to prolong the characters’ career to 22 seasons, seven on Homicide and fifteen on the Law & Order spinoff.
Detective John Munch, portrayed by Richard Belzer, is one of television’s most recognizable characters. I originally worked with Richard on the crossover between Law & Order and Homicide, and I liked his character so much that I told Tom Fontana I wanted him to be one of the original characters on SVU. “The rest is history,” said Wolf. Richard brought laughter and happiness into our lives; he was the ultimate professional, and we shall all miss him dearly.
Former SVU showrunner Warren Leight recalled working with and writing with Belzer.
“When I joined SVU, Richard Belzer was the first actor to greet me,” he remarked. “Open, friendly, caustic, quick-witted, and unexpectedly kind. I enjoyed writing for Munch and spending time with Belz.
The official Twitter account for Law & Order also shared a tribute. “Anybody who had the privilege of seeing Richard Belzer as Det. John Munch will never forget how completely he embodied that beloved character and make him his own,” the article said.
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