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Richard Lewis: The Prince of Pain’s Journey from Stand-Up Royalty to Hollywood and Beyond

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Renowned stand-up comedian Richard Lewis, known for his acerbic and dark humor in the 1970s and ’80s, and later recognized for his acting roles in films like “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and his recurring part on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” passed away at the age of 76 at his Los Angeles residence on Tuesday. The cause of death was a heart attack, as confirmed by his publicist, Jeff Abraham. Last year, Mr. Lewis had disclosed that he was battling Parkinson’s disease

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"Richard Lewis: The Prince of Pain's Journey from Stand-Up Royalty to Hollywood and Beyond"
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In the comedy scene of the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Lewis was a prominent figure, characterized by his cynical and sarcastic wit, aligning well with the urban disillusionment of that era. Originating from New York nightclubs, he became a fixture on late-night talk shows, making 48 appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman.” His success paralleled the stand-up comedy boom during the late 1980s, coinciding with the expansion of cable television.

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Dressed in black and exuding a neurotic and self-deprecating persona, Mr. Lewis, often referred to as the “Prince of Pain,” crafted his routines around the worst possible versions of everyday figures. His humor was rooted in genuine experiences, addressing his troubled childhood, challenging dating life, and regular bouts of self-doubt.

Transitioning into acting, he achieved acclaim for his role as Marty Gold on the sitcom “Anything but Love” from 1989 to 1992. Despite initial success, subsequent ventures like “Daddy Dearest” faced setbacks, leading him to pursue bit parts in movies and single-episode roles on TV.

After a hiatus from acting, Mr. Lewis returned to stand-up with “Richard Lewis: The Magical Misery Tour” in 1996, which gained attention and opened doors to new opportunities. He candidly discussed his struggles with alcohol, drugs, and depression, ultimately becoming sober in the mid-1990s. In 1999, he began a regular role on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” portraying a semi-fictionalized version of himself.

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Born on June 29, 1947, in Brooklyn, Mr. Lewis faced a troubled family life but found solace and inspiration in comedy. He made his stand-up debut in 1971 and transitioned to acting in 1979 with the TV movie “Diary of a Young Comic.” Despite facing health challenges in the late 2010s, including Parkinson’s disease, Mr. Lewis remained resilient, continuing to write and act.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky, and his brother, Robert. Richard Lewis’s impact on comedy and entertainment will be remembered across generations.

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