Garry Shandling, comic star of ‘Larry Sanders Show,’ dies at 66


(JTA) —  Garry Shandling, a comedian, actor, writer and producer best known for starring in the Emmy-winning “The Larry Sanders Show,” has died at 66.

Shandling, who was Jewish, died at a Los Angeles hospital Thursday, TMZ reported. The cause of death has not yet been reported.

Police told The Associated Press that they were sent to the actor’s home Thursday for a medical emergency and that he was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to Variety, Shandling was not known to have been suffering from any illnesses and was posting on Twitter earlier in the week.

Born in Chicago, Shandling grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where his family had moved in hopes that the climate would be therapeutic for Shandling’s older brother, who had cystic fibrosis. His mother ran a pet store and his father owned a print shop.

In a 2007 interview with The New York Times, Shandling said he became interested in comedy as a teen, when he saw Woody Allen appear on a children’s TV show.

“Here he is, this kid in Arizona, he’s not in New York,” Shandling told the Times, “and while being Jewish, he’s not at all Jewish in the traditional sense, of a noisy Jewish household. And suddenly he sees Woody Allen, and he relates.”

Shandling’s “big break,” according to the Times, came when he appeared on “The Tonight  Show” in 1981 and host Johnny Carson said, “His name is Garry Shandling. You’ll hear a lot about him.”

Shandling wrote for several sitcoms, including “Welcome Back Kotter,” but the first sitcom in which he appeared, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” ran from 1986 to 1990, first on Showtime then Fox. “The Larry Sanders Show” ran on HBO from 1992 to 1998.

According to Variety, Shandling was nominated for 18 Emmys for “The Larry Sanders Show” and won an Emmy for the series finale. He also hosted both the Grammys and Emmy Awards several times.

The series “was said to have a lasting impact on comedy at HBO, influencing such series as [Larry David’s] ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’” Variety reported.

Recommended from JTA