Garry Shandling Dies at 66

Gary Shandling Dead
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Comedian, actor, writer and producer Garry Shandling, known for “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” died Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed. He was 66.

A spokesman for the LAPD said they received a 911 call from Shandling’s home on Thursday, saying the comedian suffered from a “medical emergency.” He later died at an L.A. hospital.

Shandling wasn’t known to be suffering from any illnesses, and just a few days ago retweeted Kathy Griffin’s photo of himself, her and Bob Odenkirk.

The influential comedian was known for his neurotic observational humor, particularly about romantic relationships, and his no-holds-barred skewering of showbiz in his inventive TV shows. “The Larry Sanders Show” was one of the early pillars of HBO’s original series strategy, garnering Emmy Awards and critical acclaim during its 1992-1998 run.

Born in Chicago, Shandling was raised in Tucson, Ariz., and started out majoring in electrical engineering before completing a marketing degree at the University of Arizona. After moving to Los Angeles, he sold a script for “Sanford and Son” and also wrote for “Welcome Back, Kotter.” He guest-hosted on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and was in consideration to become Carson’s replacement. After a serious car accident, he began working on his stand-up comedy act.

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Garry Shandling Dead

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In 1986, he created his own sitcom “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” also an early original series effort for Showtime. The show, also co-created by Alan Zweibel, was nominated for four Emmys, and ran until 1990. The show was noted for being one that often broke the fourth wall, with Shandling speaking directly to the audience, and he played a version of himself: a stand-up comedian aware of the fact that he is a sitcom character. Even the theme song was self-referential from the opening line: “This is the theme to Garry’s show…”

The seeds of “Larry Sanders Show” were planted on Showtime in 1986 when Shandling hosted “The Garry Shandling Show 25th Anniversary Special,” a parody of a Johnny Carson-esque anniversary special. He starred and co-created “Larry Sanders Show” for HBO, set in the office of a fictional late-night talk show, with Dennis Klein. Shandling was nominated for 18 Emmys for the show and, along with Peter Tolan, won an Emmy for the series finale.

“The Larry Sanders Show” was said to have a lasting impact on TV comedy, influencing such series as “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It cracked several “best of” lists, including Time’s 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. Judd Apatow was among the staff writers on the show who went on to become a major player in the industry.

Among his film and voice acting appearances were “Iron Man 2,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Dr. Dolittle,” “Zoolander” and “Over the Hedge.” The notorious flop “Town and Country,” in which he co-starred with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton, was a big disappointment for Shandling in 2001.

Garry Shandling’s Life and Career in Photos

Although the comedian hadn’t amassed many recent credits, he worked behind the scenes with numerous writers and comedians including Apatow and Sacha Baron Cohen, helping them hone their material.

NBC offered him $5 million to take over “Late Night” when David Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, but he declined. He was also offered “The Late Late Show” but declined to do the “Larry Sanders Show.”

He was also a formidable host, hosting the Grammys in 1990, 1993 and 1994, and the Emmys in 2000 and 2004.

Shandling was never married and did not have children. TMZ first reported the news.

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  1. nameismike69 says:

    Sing everyone….Everybody knows that there going to die sometime. Everybody knows that there going to go. You don’t know when or where or how. You just go… So everybody dies some… some…. time.

  2. RIP – Condolences to all – I loved his shows

  3. David Buschhorn says:

    This is the theme to Garry’s show. The theme to Garry’s show. This is the theme to the Garry Shandling show!

  4. Jimmy W Vick says:

    Led off in disgrace in Winter Solider… How generation whatever will remember him… so terrible…

  5. davey says:

    Will the failing Ben Stiller inherit his throne?

  6. davey says:

    Just read the coroner’s report. HIs amygdala blew up.

  7. sfoxe says:

    RIP Garry.

  8. MichaelH says:

    Ever notice how the entertainment industry continually calls their own, “Legends”? The legend is why they would do that.

  9. Funny guy. Sorry he’s gone. Hope there’s more info. on what happened.

  10. Boutros Boutros-Ghali says:

    Yep. Ever since Johnny retired.

  11. Archie Stivic says:

    Comedy and physics are two fields in which the best are so often Jewish. Being a successful comedian takes very high intelligence, just like physics. The great comedians make it look easy. Nobody ever made physics look easy.

    • tommy says:

      Actually, highly intelligent people can enjoy other smart or talented people without mentioning their religion at all.

  12. Fej says:

    Funny guy. Larry Sanders was a funny show. He even moved politically to the right as he got older. Sad to see him go. RIP Garry

  13. meyou says:

    …a last photo w/Kathy Griffin??? I pray that God forgives him for that.

  14. mike says:

    Damn it I love that guy.

  15. Pepperspray137 says:

    This is the theme to Gary’s show, the opening theme to Gary’s show. This is the music you hear as you watch the credits. I’m almost halfway finished how do you like it so far? How do you like the theme to Gary’s show?

  16. S9 sorry for your loss my prayers are with the family. May God bless you all at this time of need.

  17. Why is the weddings, births, deaths of celebrities newsworthy? What about the doctor you spends his life putting car crash victims, shoot out victims together each day for years not as worthy? Not to mention the teachers who go into poor areas daily and work with disadvantaged children, I hope you get my point. I pray for Mr Shandling but quite frankly I never hear of him.

    • jab says:

      So because you don’t know him…this is not news worthy ?…How self serving..
      And…
      Google Doctors who save lives and you will get the articles you are so craving.
      Good luck.

    • You understand that this is Variety’s website, right? It’s been an entertainment trade magazine since 1905. It publishes news about the entertainment industry. Garry Shandling was in the entertainment industry. Get it?

      If you want to read about heroic doctors, subscribe to the JAMA. If you would like to read stories about heroic teachers, check out the NEA’s website.

      Nobody here cares that you don’t know who Garry Shandling is. Why even waste your time telling us that?

    • Don Maciejewski says:

      Yeah, I get your point and to some extent I agree.

      I would submit the death of a prominent doctor or anyone well known or liked in a community a state or nation leaves a wake in direct proportion to that persons impact on the lives of others. If you look at it that way, those prominent or popular local people IN THEIR AREA may have more press coverage, more respect proportionally than a national or a world figure.

      I have a problem with roads streets public buildings and such being named after politicians. Screw that! Name them after courageous cops, firefighters, doctors, scientists teachers.

    • iamtrue2bill says:

      You have answered your own question: “celebrities” means they are people that other people recognize and have an interest in hearing about.

      Garry Shandling was a very smart, inventive, and unique comedian. His “Larry Sanders Show” was really very good. His understated dry humor was terrific!

      • Gordon Shumway says:

        I agree that no road, highway, park, building, airport, or anything else should ever be named for a politician. I would suggest we name landfills after them.

  18. Jan Jackson says:

    Garry was a very nice person, but I never found his schtick to be even remotely funny. Perhaps his real forte was writing, rather than performing comedy.

    • Bob says:

      I never found him to be funny (maybe the fact he hung out with Kathy Griffen says it all). He did seem likeable on a personal level, though.

      • Steven Louis Thury says:

        Strange, I thought Gary was very funny. I suppose you think Robin Williams was funny then?

      • Hillary Trump says:

        Funny is in the ear of the beholder, I suppose. I never thought either Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell were the least bit funny, but, judging by their ticket sales, I seem to be in the minority.

  19. InfoMan US says:

    Shandling was a master of comedy. Totally hilarious…. Tonight I happened to watch Conan. Which was the first time I’ve seen Conan since he was doing the Tonight Show. Hia show was just too cornball for me, so I was glad to see NBC bring back Leno… But Conan has changed, and I really enjoyed his show tonight. He started the show off by paying his respects to Shandling, and then he shared some personal experiences he’d had with Garry… Really funny stuff!!.

  20. Mike Regean says:

    Very shocking but his episode of comedians in cars getting coffee was strangely cryptic toward his death. Sad to hear though.

  21. Steve says:

    NO! I love the Larry Sanders show! I watch reruns all the time, it keeps me grounded. So sad…

  22. Bill Ficks says:

    Garry Shandling was a brilliant comedian. Back in the 80’s he was a bridge between the older guys like Johnny Carson and Don Rickles & guys that were just becoming known like Leno & Letterman. I wish the ride could’ve lasted longer, Garry, but you’re probably cracking them all up in heaven.

  23. jekyllisland says:

    This sucks

  24. Deborah Walls says:

    So sorry for your family’s loss.

    R.I.P. Mr. Shandling!

  25. Mark Lemmon says:

    R.I.P Shandling…

  26. Daniel says:

    Very young for a brilliant man. The type of humour on par with Joan Rivers. Also missed.

  27. steveinphilly says:

    RIP, Garry. I suspect there was a great third act we will now never see. You were a legend. We will always have the reruns, but I wish we still had you. Thanks for making us laugh out loud.

  28. I JUST WATCHED LARRY SANDERS ON YOU TUBE LAST NIGHT RIP! LARRY SANDERS

  29. Timmy says:

    I once heard him despair, almost to the point of tears, over how hard it was to put down his (first) dog*. He said it was so hard that he wouldn’t get another until he was old enough to be uncertain as to who would die first, him or his new dog. I hope he did get time with a new dog, and even if it’s only a small ‘silver lining’ to his passing, at least he didn’t have to go through that anguish again. RIP, Garry S.!

    * Interview on “Fresh Air”.

  30. Condolences and he will be missed…. RIP

  31. Bob says:

    One of the few that I liked !
    Great comedian
    So sad and @ 66 ?
    Rip !

  32. Katrina says:

    Well, we lost Gary. But at least we got Fidel back.

  33. David says:

    RIP Tucsonan Garry Shandling

  34. J Blakemore says:

    All love for Garry. He was a man who lived in a classy neighbourhood of comedy; one that was thoughtful while being wacky and silly.

    We never know what we miss until it is gone. I know I miss his art right now.

  35. Raypairman says:

    HUGE!!! Fan. I love this man! Wow. Rest In Peace.

  36. MARIE McKIM says:

    I still remember when…and I will never forget you, Gary, peace out and when we meet again I know you will start with…”I remember when…”

  37. B.A. says:

    Gee-Suss…Wow…talk about a news shocker….errrrr when I read it on the inter-webs….and of course I 1st thought it to be a hoax….which I guess is not…..sad me..:(

  38. Wilma says:

    It’s getting so I don’t want to ck who is trending on Twitter. So many brilliant actors and singers are passing…yet Kanye West lives on.

  39. Rodney says:

    I’m sure he will be missed by MANY ‘and the memorys of the good o ‘day s when things that played on tv’s ment a lot more to people then what’s ” played to day’ well any how he will allways be remembered by the smile s he put on MANY faces!

  40. Linda Haller says:

    I enjoyed all of his shows and would have like to see him do more. He will be missed.

  41. Well, I guess he and Joan Rivers are doing a gig on cloud nine together..

  42. Alan Seals says:

    He was a great comedian and actor. The Larry Sanders show was an all time favorite.

  43. Alex says:

    He was one of funniest of his generation and a 100x funnier than the lameo’s out there today. Heaven became a better place now that he’s there, God rest you Garry.

  44. Jacques Strappe says:

    I always found him to be amusing. His humor was never obnoxious or mean spirited like so many comedians tend to be nowadays. Sorry to hear about his passing at such a young age

  45. James says:

    Why is this just now news if it happened 4 days ago and reports are saying it happened today

  46. Nico Time says:

    :( a huge influence on the foundation of my humor :(

  47. Rebecca says:

    THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW was an HBO show, not Showtime

    • Dave says:

      You didn’t read the article carefully enough. He hosted a parody of a Carson anniversary special on Showtime, which then inspired the HBO series.

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