Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Infobox actor
name = Richard Belzer
birthname = Richard Jay Belzer

imagesize = 200px
birthdate = birth date and age|1944|8|4
birthplace = Bridgeport, Conn., U.S.A.
occupation = Comedian, writer,
film, television actor
spouse = Gail Susan Ross (1966–1972)
Dalia Danoch (1976–1978)
Harlee McBride (1985–present)
influences =
influenced =
website =

Richard Jay Belzer (born August 4, 1944) is an American stand up comedian, writer, and actor, perhaps best known for his work as Det. John Munch, on ' and '.


Early life and education

Belzer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA to a Jewish family of Francis and Charles Belzer, a candy and tobacco retailer. [ [ Richard Belzer Biography (1944-) ] ] Actor Henry Winkler is his cousin. Belzer grew up with his parents and older brother Leonard. As a youth, Belzer worked as a paperboy and was "kicked out of every school he attended". Nonetheless, Belzer attended and graduated from Andrew Warde High School in the neighboring town of Fairfield, Connecticut. Both parents died while he was young: His mother died of cancer when he was 18 and his father committed suicide when Belzer was 22.

After high school, he worked as a reporter for the "Bridgeport Post". He attended Dean Junior College in Franklin, Massachusetts for a year and a part of a semester before being asked to leave for leading too many student demonstrations. According to one interview, he was majoring in Physical Education. Fact|date=January 2008 After leaving college, Belzer was encouraged by his father to enlist in the Army. For a brief period, he studied and then later taught yoga. One of his earliest comedy routines included a character "Yogi Yogi, the Yodler" a contestant in a yodeling contest.

tand-up comic

Belzer terminated his enlistment early. He married Gail Ross, a union that ended in divorce. Belzer relocated to New York City, and moved in with singer Shelley Ackerman, and began working as a stand-up comic at Pips, The Improv, and Catch a Rising Star. He participated in the Channel One comedy group that satirized television and became the basis for the cult movie "The Groove Tube", in which as the co-star of the "ersatz" t.v. show, "The Dealers".

Belzer was the audience warm-up comedian for "Saturday Night Live" in its premiere season and made three guest appearances on the show in 1976 and 1978. (However, despite appearing as such in the film "Man on the Moon", Belzer was not the first host of the show. That honor went to George Carlin.)

Film acting

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Belzer became an occasional film actor. He is noted for his small roles in "Fame", "Night Shift", and "Scarface". Belzer (billed as "Richard Brando") went on to provide the voice of "The Breather" in the box-office flop "Student Bodies". He also appeared in the music video for the Mike + The Mechanics song "Taken In".

In addition to his illustrious film career, Belzer has a place in radio history as a featured player on the "National Lampoon Radio Hour", a half-hour comedy program aired on some 600 U. S. stations from 1973 to 1975. Several of his sketches were released on National Lampoon albums drawn from the Radio Hour including several bits in which he portrayed a pithy call-in talk show host named, 'Dick Ballentine'. In the late 1970s he co-hosted "Brink & Belzer" on 660AM WNBC (New York City). He is also a frequent guest on "The Howard Stern Show".

Hulk Hogan incident

On March 27, 1985 on his cable TV talk show "Hot Properties", just days prior to the inaugural WrestleMania, Belzer requested that Hulk Hogan demonstrate one of his signature wrestling moves.cite web|url=,9171,141573,00.html|title=Hype! Hell Raising! Hulk Hogan!|author=Richard Corliss||accessdate=2008-07-08] Hogan put Belzer in a front chin lock or sleeper hold, which caused Belzer to pass out. When Hogan released him, Belzer hit his head on the floor, sustaining a laceration to his scalp which required him to be hospitalized briefly.

Lying unconscious and bleeding, Belzer suddenly sprang to his feet just in time to make the necessary announcements leading out to the commercial break. Recalling the incident on Late Night With David Letterman, he explained that it was "show business in his blood" that willed him back to his feet to protect the integrity of the show.

Belzer sued Hogan for $5 million and later settled out of court. Belzer used the settlement (rumored to be $1.5 million) to purchase a cottage in France, where he and his wife Harlee live when he's not working in the U.S. On October 20, 2006 on "Bubba the Love Sponge" it was claimed (with Hogan live in the studio) that the settlement totaled $5 million, half from Hogan and half from Vince McMahon. Hogan discussed the incident on Howard Stern's radio show. Hogan said it takes 5 pounds of pressure to render someone unconscious using a sleeper hold, and he applied 55 pounds of pressure to Belzer. Hogan said he regrets the incident. [ [] ] During his appearance June 23, 2008, on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Belzer suggested that the real settlement amount was actually nearer to $400,000. [ [] ]

Belzer used the incident in his HBO special "Another Lone Nut" as part of his stand-up routine.


In the 1990s, Belzer appeared frequently on television, including a movie role in which he appeared as an LAPD detective in "A Very Brady Sequel". He was a regular on "The Flash" television show. In several episodes of ', he played Inspector William Henderson. He followed that success with starring roles on ' (1993-1999) and "" (1999 - ), playing the same character (Det. John Munch) in both series.

In addition, he has also played Det. John Munch in episodes of six other series:
* "Law & Order" - 4 episodes: "Charm City Part 1", "Baby, It's You", "Sideshow" and "Entitled Part 2"
* "The X-Files" - 1 episode: "Unusual Suspects"
* "The Beat" - 1 episode: "They Say It's Your Birthday"
* "" - 1 episode: "Skeleton (2)"
** Belzer's appearance on "Trial by Jury", which aired April 15, 2005, made him the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. The other two actors are John Ratzenberger and George Wendt who played Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson in "Cheers" (1982-1993), "St. Elsewhere" (1985), "The Tortellis" (1987), "Wings" (1990), "The Simpsons" (1994) and "Frasier" (2002).
* "Arrested Development" - 1 episode: "Exit Strategy" (Belzer also appeared in episode "S.O.B.s", but as himself.)
* "The Wire" - 1 episode: "Took"

Munch is the only fictional character played by a single actor to appear on eight different television shows. These shows were on four different networks: NBC ("Homicide: Life on the Street", the "Law & Order" shows), FOX ("The X-Files", "Arrested Development"), UPN ("The Beat"), and HBO ("The Wire").

He also appeared in Comedy Central's broadcast of the Friars Club roast of Chevy Chase.

Belzer was honored by the New York Friars Club and the Toyota Comedy Festival June 9, 2001 as the honoree of the first ever roast that was open to the public. Comedians and friends on the dais included Roast master Paul Shaffer, Christopher Walken, Danny Aiello, Barry Levinson, Robert Klein, Bill Maher, "SVU" co-stars Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T, and Dann Florek, and "Law & Order"'s Jerry Orbach.

Richard Belzer also voiced the character of Loogie, for most of the episode of South Park entilted The Tooth Fairy Tats 2000.

Appears in a segment with Bill Murray's brother, Brian Doyle-Murray in the 10th season premiere of Sesame Street

Personal life

Belzer married actress Harlee McBride in 1985. His previous marriages were with Gail Susan Ross (1966-1972) and Dalia Danoch (1976-1978).

Belzer testified on behalf of a criminal who was running from actual Baltimore police and ran onto the set of "Homicide: Life on the Street". The criminal surrendered to the actors.

Health problems

Belzer survived testicular cancer in 1984. His HBO special and comedy CD "Another Lone Nut" [ [ Another Lone Nut: Music: Richard Belzer ] ] pokes fun at this, as well as his status as a well-known "Conspiracy Theorist".

Political Endorsements

In 2004, Belzer endorsed the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry (D-MA) from the early days of his campaign until his loss to incumbent President George W. Bush.In 2008, Belzer officially endorsed the campaign of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) for President of the United States.

Radio Program

Following the departure of Randi Rhodes from Air America Radio, Belzer guest hosted the afternoon program on the network.

Books by Richard Belzer

*"UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Believe", ISBN 0-345-42918-4
*"How to Be a Stand-Up Comic", ISBN 0-394-56239-9
*"Momentum: The Struggle for Peace, Politics, and the People" (By Belzer and Marjorie Mowlam), ISBN 0-340-79394-5


External links

*imdb name|0001938|Richard Belzer
*amg name|2:5240
* [ Richard Belzer Message Board]
* [ NBC Biography]
* [ Video Clip - Part of appearance on Bill Maher's "Real Time"]

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