‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Actor and Comedian Richard Lewis Dead at 76

The beloved stand-up comedian played a fictionalized version of himself on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ with Larry David.

Richard Lewis in a black suit on the red carpet at the 'Sandy Wexler' premiere
Jason Laveris / FilmMagic
Richard Lewis in a black suit on the red carpet at the 'Sandy Wexler' premiere

Richard Lewis, best known for his work on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, has died, Deadline reports. He was 76.

Lewis died “peacefully at his home in Los Angeles” on Tuesday after he suffered a heart attack, his publicist Jeff Abraham confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. 

“His wife, Joyce Lapinsky, thanks everyone for all the love, friendship and support and asks for privacy at this time,” Abraham added.

The actor and comedian, often nicknamed the “Prince of Pain,” was best known for his work in films such as Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Leaving Las Vegas. He played a fictionalized version of himself in a recurring role for the HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm with Larry David throughout the show’s 24-year run.

“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me,” David wrote in a statement shared by HBO. “He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

According to Variety, Lewis announced last April he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would be retiring from stand-up comedy after a nearly 50 year career.

In one of his final interviews with Vanity Fair, the actor discussed his life, career, and also shed light on his decision to go public with his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

“On my last tour, I knew it was my last. It was the best I’ve ever been onstage. I said, ‘This is it. Fifty years. I’m exhausted.’ I did about six cities. People showed me how much they care about my work. And I would never go on again. Not to mention, my body’s been beaten up by four surgeries,” Lewis told Vanity Fair‘s Andrew Buss in an interview published earlier this month.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a couple of years ago. So far so good. I’m going to PT three times a week, but it sucks. It’s another progressive disease that I’m fighting, and I’ll do the best I can. I certainly wouldn’t go on the road. Doing physical training for four surgeries and Parkinson’s, you don’t want to be doing radio at 9 for PR for gigs near the equator.”

The actor also told the publication he kept his diagnosis a secret while shooting Curb last year.

“Larry knew, and I’m sure Jeff Shaffer and other executive producers knew. I’ve got to tell you how he took care of me this year. The cast and a crew—just as I’m diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease—made sure that everything was right for me on the set. They assigned a third AD to me [to clear the path]. ‘Richard is coming!’ Everybody was so lovely on the set. It was all really heartwarming.”

However, Lewis says his Parkinson’s diagnosis forced him to look back and be “grateful.”

“I’ve had such an amazing life. I still do. I’m a lucky man. I got in touch with more gratitude and also acceptance. It’s imperative that I accept the fact that I have Parkinson’s. If you don’t accept it, then it lingers around your brain and you get morbid and depressed. You lose energy.”

Lewis continued, “I always used to be like a Duracell comic. Running around onstage. I was just all over the place, but in a good way. Now I have to slow down physically. I’m trying to connect up my physical qualities—or lack thereof—with my brain. It’s really a dopamine problem, too. So I take meds—typical ones for dopamine. I’ve got to make sure I do it at the right time every day. And as long as I keep my dopamine level up, and keep my gratitude and acceptance in place, I’ll weather this storm for the rest of my days.”

Lewis recently appeared on Season 12 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is currently airing on HBO.

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