Richard Lewis, Curb Your Enthusiasm Star, Dead At 76

By Matthew Flynn | Published

Richard Lewis, the comedian and actor known for his distinct brand of self-deprecating neuroticism, has passed away at 76. He leaves behind a comic legacy that stretches across a variety of media. Lewis succumbed to a heart attack at his residence in Los Angeles following a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Richard Lewis Started Out In Stand-Up

richard lewis

Initially a stand-up comedian, he rose to greater fame with popular TV specials, such as I’m in Pain and The I’m Exhausted Concert. Ultimately, Lewis would find himself selling out concerts at major venues such as Carnegie Hall and appearing on late-night talk shows such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman.

Known For Self-Deprecating Humor

richard lewis

With his signature neurotic and self-deprecating comedic flair, Richard Lewis made light of his struggles with hypochondria and anxiety. His experience with substance abuse was well-known, but a remarkable breakthrough in 1991 led him to sobriety. His autobiography, The Other Great Depression, provides a candid account of his journey to recovery and spiritual enlightenment.

A Fixture Of 90s Comedies

Beyond his standing as a comedian, Richard Lewis’ acting career was equally successful. His work in film began playing himself in 1988’s The Wrong Guys and ranged from Prince John in Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights to roles in Amy Heckerling’s comedy horror, Vamps, and Sandy Wexler with Adam Sandler.

His work in television included starring with Jamie Lee Curtis in Anything but Love from 1989 through 1992, playing the psychologist son of a used car dealer in Daddy Dearest, and his role as a rabbi in the WB’s 7th Heaven.

Curb Your Enthuasiasm

Recently, he experienced a resurgence in popularity with one of his best-loved roles, portraying a fictionalized version of himself in HBO’s hit comedy, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Alongside Larry David, the show’s creator, their on-screen chemistry revolved around Lewis’ neurotic demeanor and David’s inadvertent ability to disrupt his own relationships.

Their off-screen camaraderie mirrored their on-screen interaction, with David viewing Lewis as a brother. David said he and Lewis were born three days apart at the same hospital, and the two met at a summer camp when they were teenagers.

Mined His Childhood For Comedy

Lewis’ nuanced performance in Curb Your Enthusiasm garnered him a dedicated following and critical commendation for his comedic genius, sharp wit, and exceptional talent. Born on June 29, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York, Lewis was raised in Englewood, New Jersey. There, he battled through a difficult family situation which he documented in his comedy, including his father being busy running a catering business, his siblings moving out, and being forced to spend inordinate amounts of time home alone with his mother, with whom he regularly quarreled.

Loved In Hollywood

After graduating from college, he was given a $1,00 loan from David Brenner, which gave him the freedom to leave his job and focus more on his comedy. His pursuit of his passion led him to become a celebrated figure in the industry, known for his distinctive comedic style and impeccable timing.

In addition to his remarkable legacy in the entertainment world, Lewis leaves behind his wife, Joyce Lapinski, whom he met at a Ringo Starr concert in 1988. The two had been married since 2004.