Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer, born August 4, 1944, is an American stand up comedian, writer and actor.

Richard Belzer


Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he grew up with his parents and older brother. His mother was neglectful and physically abusive, but his father worked hard to move his family out of the poverty of the projects and into a better life. Richard worked as a paperboy and became known for his irrepressible wit, which "caused him to be kicked out of every school he attended". Belzer's mother Frances died of breast cancer when he was 18. After high school, he worked as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post. He attended Dean Junior College in Franklin, MA 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. After leaving college, Belzer was encouraged by his father to enlist in the Army. He soon realized he was unsuitable for the military and tried to get out, and eventually he was successful at terminating his enlistment early.

After the Army, Belzer moved to New York City and began working as a stand-up comic. He participated in the Channel One comedy group that satirized television and became the basis for the cult movie The Groove Tube.

Belzer's father Charles attempted suicide when Richard was 22, but Richard found him in time to save his life. His father completed suicide the following year.

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. He also was a 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 Valentine. In the late 1970s he co-hosted Brink & Belzer on 660AM WNBC (New York City).

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.)

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

Belzer married actress Harlee McBride in 1985. In that same year on his cable TV talk show Hot Properties, Belzer said wrestling was fake and insisted Hulk Hogan put a wrestling move on him. Hulk 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. Belzer sued Hogan for $5 million, and it was 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 the Bubba the Love Sponge show it was claimed (with Hogan live on the phone) that the settlement totalled $5 million, half from Hogan and half from Vince McMahon.

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 Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he played Inspector William Henderson. He followed that success with starring roles on Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999 - ), playing the same character (Detective John Munch) in both series.

In addition, he has also played Detective 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"
Law & Order: Trial by Jury - 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.)
His appearance in "Exit Strategy" marked the first time an actor had ever played the same character in 7 different prime time series.
Sesame Street - 1 episode: "Law & Order: Special Letters Unit" (He appeared as a Muppet version of the character, still named Munch.)
Munch's appearance on Sesame Street, which aired August 14, 2006, made him 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 PBS (Sesame Street).
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.

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


  • Belzer and Henry Winkler (most notably the Fonz on Happy Days) are cousins.
  • Belzer's wife Harlee McBride made 2 soft porn movies Young Lady Chatterley (1977)[2] and Young Lady Chatterley II (1985)[3]. She also had a recurring role in Homicide: Life on the Street as Medical Examiner Alyssa Dryer
  • His previous marriages were with Gail Susan Ross (1966-1972) and Dalia Danoch (1976-1978).
  • He has appeared in episodes of four different series with Sam Waterston: Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
  • His trademark is that he often appears wearing sunglasses, even indoors.
  • Richard 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. Belzer said the look on the man's face was adequate punishment.
  • Former jobs include teacher, census-taker, jewelry salesman and dockworker.
  • He is a noted conspiracy theorist, as is his character in the Law & Order Franchise.
  • Fellow SVU star Mariska Hargitay mentioned on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, that Belzer occasionally gets rides to work by NYPD police officers.
  • Richard Belzer voiced a character "Loogie" for an episode in South Park's 4th season. Loogie, a young mafia boss who ran a multi-city empire which generated revenues by placing teeth under unsuspecting childrens pillows and then returning later for the cash.
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