Richard Lewis, Comedian and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Star, Dies at 76

Richard Lewis, the stand-up comedian who also starred alongside Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” has died due to a heart attack, Variety has confirmed. He was 76.

Lewis announced last April he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was retiring from stand-up comedy. He most recently appeared in Season 12 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” currently airing on HBO.

More from Variety

In 2021, Lewis announced he would not appear in Season 11 of “Curb” in order to recover from three surgeries. He surprised viewers by returning to set for one Season 11 episode, telling Variety at the time, “When I walked in and they applauded, I felt like a million bucks. Larry doesn’t like to hug, and he hugged me and told me how happy he was after we shot our scene.”

Lewis, who played a semi-fictionalized version of himself throughout the 24 years of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was known for his neurotic, self-deprecating style of comedy. After making his screen acting debut in 1979’s “Diary of a Young Comic,” Lewis rose to prominence in the 1980s and ’90s with appearances on “The Tonight Show” and the “Late Show With David Letterman.” He showcased his dark, yet brightly animated persona in his 1985 Showtime comedy special “I’m in Pain,” following it up with the HBO specials “I’m Exhausted” (1988), “I’m Doomed” (1990) and “Richard Lewis: The Magical Misery Tour” (1997).

In 1989, Lewis landed a leading role in the ABC sitcom “Anything but Love,” in which he starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis as coworkers at a Chicago magazine who fall in love and fail to uphold a strictly professional relationship. The series ran for 56 episodes across four seasons before ending in 1992. Lewis landed other ’90s sitcom roles in the short-lived “Daddy Dearest” starring Don Rickles and “Hiller and Diller” featuring Kevin Nealon.

Lewis’ film roles include the 1993 comedy “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” the 1995 drama “Leaving Las Vegas” and the 1997 rom-com “Hugo Pool.” In “Drunks” — starring an ensemble including Faye Dunaway, George Martin, Parker Posey, Howard Rollins, Spalding Gray and Dianne Wiest — Lewis played a struggling alcoholic and drug addict.

Throughout his career, the comedian has also been candid about his own battle with drug and alcohol addiction, referencing his recovery and struggles with depression and anxiety in his comedy. Lewis, formerly a user of cocaine and crystal meth, said his decision to get sober was partly inspired by John Candy’s 1994 death.

In 2021, upon returning to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” after various health struggles, Lewis told Variety, “I’ve devoted my life to comedy and my sobriety the last almost 27 years. I’m overwhelmed with joy right now. I never learned how to keep joy in my head for more than a minute, but I’m breaking all records for my life today.”

Lewis is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Leave a Comment