×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Garry Shandling Dies at 66

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.

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.

More TV

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Skam Season 2 Bows on Movistar

    Spanish Remake Of 'Skam' Returns to Movistar + on March 28

    MADRID — Movistar +, the pay TV unit of telco giant Telefonica, has set a March 28 release for Season 2 of “Skam España,” the Spanish remake of Norwegian cult web-TV hit teen drama “Skam” (“Shame”) whose plot, at least in the second season, begins to diverge from the Nordic original. Produced in collaboration with [...]

  • HBO Asia Unveils Three New Originals,

    HBO Asia Unveils Slate of Originals, Renews ‘Teenage Psychic’ for Second Season

    HBO Asia has unveiled a trio of new original series and a second season of its hit “The Teenage Psychic.” The new shows bring the number of original series commissioned and distributed by the Singapore-based offshoot of HBO to 15. “Dream Raider” will be HBO Asia’s first Asian sci-fi drama, an eight-episode hour-long series that [...]

  • Supergirl -- "O Brother, Where Art

    Jon Cryer Breaks Down Playing 'Sociopath' Lex Luthor on 'Supergirl'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” the Mar. 17 episode of “Supergirl.” After seasons of build-up, Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) made his “Supergirl” debut in the fourth season episode entitled “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Initially, the supervillain positioned himself as a sick man, eager [...]

  • George M. Lehr Dead: Man From

    George M. Lehr, 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Associate Producer, Dies at 87

    George M. Lehr, associate producer on such classic TV series as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Police Woman,” and later a professor at USC’s School of Cinema & Television, died March 14, in Erie, Pa., after a short illness. He was 87. Lehr worked on television shows at MGM, 20th Century-Fox and Columbia for more [...]

  • FilMart: HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink

    FilMart: HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink Praises Local Content Strategy

    CEO of HBO Asia since 2003, Jonathan Spink has seen the growth of pay-TV in Asia, the moves towards content localization and original production, and has faced up to the challenge of internet-based streaming services. He joins Variety on Monday in a keynote presentation at Hong Kong’s FilMart, and is expected to unveil an expanded [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content