Comedian Garry Shandling, best known for his acerbic and innovative HBO series “The Larry Sanders Show,” died Thursday night in Los Angeles, according to a report in this morning’s New York Times. According to TMZ, paramedics responded to a 911 call from Shandling and rushed him to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, where their sources report he died of a heart attack.
After emerging as a rising talent from the Los Angeles comedy club scene in the 1970s and 80s, Shandling enjoyed a broad career, including stints as a writer for TV (“Sanford & Son,” “Welcome Back, Kotter”) and film (What Planet Are You From?). But late night television was where he truly established a place for his off-beat, self-deprecating humor, beginning with his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” in 1981, where he would become a frequent guest host for the next decade. He would later mine the absurd, egomaniac world of celebrity talk shows for his definitive work on HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show,” where he served as creator, writer, producer, director and star from 1992 to 1998. The show’s satirical take on behind-the-scenes Hollywood politics, with actors often showing up to play funhouse mirror versions of themselves, laid the groundwork for comedies like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “30 Rock,” and earned Shandling an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series in 1998, one of three wins among the shows 50 Emmy nominations. In recent years, he was seen playing a conniving senator in Marvel’s “Iron Man 2” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and, most recently, getting coffee with Jerry Seinfeld.
Shandling was remembered, appropriately, on late night television Thursday, with Conan O’Brian and Seth Meyers sharing their memories of the comedian.
He was 66.