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Richard Belzer passes away at age 78 - co-star Mariska Hargitay pays tribute

The actor was on Law & Order: SVU from 1999 to 2016

richard belzer

Richard Belzer, best known for playing the cynical Detective John Munch on Law & Order: SVU, has passed away.

The actor was 78, and according to former The Late Show with David Letterman writer Bill Scheft, he died at his home in Bozouls in the southwest of France.

The former late night writer first shared the news in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, detailing that he had had "lots of health issues."

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The SVU star's longtime friend told the outlet: "He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, '[Expletive] you, mother [expletive].'"

Richard is survived by his wife Harlee McBride, 74, who he married in 1985. Though he had no children of his own, he is also survived by his two stepdaughters, Jessica and Shannon, from his wife's previous marriage.

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Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1944, the late television star first made his on-screen debut in the 1974 comedy The Groove Tube, which was also fellow comedian Chevy Chase's own feature debut.

The cast of SVU© Photo: Getty Images

Richard was a part of the SVU cast for 17 years

He went on to be a staple of the New York City comedy scene in the 1970s and 1980s, alongside dome of the other comedy greats, such as the late John Belushi and Gilda Radner, plus Bill Murray.

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When Lorne Michaels created and launched Saturday Night Live in 1975, Richard was hired by the veteran producer to be the warm-up comedian for the famous sketch-show's live audience.

Mariska Hargitay and Richard Belzer© Photo: Getty Images

His co-star Mariska was quick to pay tribute to her longtime co-star

His famous character, Detective Munch, first debuted on television during the first episode of NBC's Homicide, and his last was in a 2016 episode of Law & Order: SVU, of which he was part of the cast from 1999 until 2016.

His longtime co-star Mariska Hargitay issued a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, where she wrote: "Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I can hear them laughing already. I love you so very much, now and forever."

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