Richard Lewis, Curb Your Enthusiasm star and stand-up comedian, dies aged 76

Richard Lewis, the acclaimed comedian well known for playing a fictionalised version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, has died. He was 76.

Lewis died after suffering a heart attack at home in Los Angeles on Tuesday night (27 February). As Deadline reports, his death was confirmed by his publicist Jeff Abraham.

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

Lewis announced last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was retiring from stand-up comedy.

Nevertheless, he continued to appear in the twelfth season of Larry David’s sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is currently airing on HBO.

Lewis was born in Brooklyn on 29 June 1947. He first tried his hand at stand-up by taking part in an open mic in Greenwich Village in 1971, and by the end of the decade had established himself as one of the stand-out talents of a flourishing stand-up scene that also included the likes of George Carlin, Andy Kaufman and Lily Tomlin.

Richard Lewis in Hollywood in 2013 (Getty Images for AFI)
Richard Lewis in Hollywood in 2013 (Getty Images for AFI)

Alongside his dark stand-up comedy, marked by self-deprecation and gallows humour, Lewis was also a talented actor who appeared in comedies such as Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) as well as more serious dramas including Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

In 1999, Lewis appeared in the pilot episode of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David’s sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. When the series was picked up the following year he became a regular and beloved character on the show.

In 2020, Lewis spoke to The Independent about his lifelong relationship with David.

“I was born in the same hospital as Larry, three days apart,” Lewis explained. “We went to the same sports camp when we were 12, and I hated him and he hated me. I never wanted to see him again. He was just a lanky a**hole, and he considered me a chubby a**hole. So we never saw each other again until 12 years later when we were comedians in New York starting out.

“He was a big fan of mine, and there was something about his face that scared me. It was like something out of a Polanski movie. I’ve been sober about 26 years, but back then I wasn’t, and I must have put a few back after my set, and I looked at him and said: ‘There’s something about you that’s horrifying.’ And he gets real nervous about that s***. And we went through our childhoods and realised we went to the same camp. ‘You’re that kid?’ he said. ‘You’re Richard Lewis? You son of a bitch!’ He’s in denial about it, but I wanted to have a fight.”