Actor & comedian Garry Shandling died suddenly today after collapsing. He was 66.
A fledgling sitcom writer in the 1970’s having written scripts for Sanford & Son and Welcome Back, Kotter, Shandling turned to stand up comedy following a serious car accident that nearly claimed his life in 1977.
Shandling would come to national prominence in the early 1980’s with his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Becoming a favorite of Carson, Shandling would become a regular guest host until 1986 when he launched his own show. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show aired on Showtime between 1986-1990. While never a ratings juggernaut, the show was praised for its original premise with the entire show revolving around breaking the fourth wall.
Shandling would reach the pinnacle of his career during the 1990’s with HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show. It was a show within a show. The Larry Sanders Show was a late night TV talk show as well as showing the behind the scenes workings (or chaos) behind the show. It spawned dozens of imitators such as 30 Rock and Entourage but none had the heart of Larry Sanders.
In recent years, Shandling spent less time in the public eye although he did appear as Senator Stern in both Iron Man 2 and Captain America: Winter Soldier.
More recently, Shandling had appeared in Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in an episode which was eerily titled, “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive.”
Shandling might be gone, but his humor hasn’t left the room.
I leave you with a video of his Tonight Show debut in March 1981.