Comic Garry Shandling, 66, dead from apparent heart attack in L.A

Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:46pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian and actor Garry Shandling, who made his name as a frequent guest host on late-night television and for parodying himself as star of the pioneering cable TV comedy series, "The Larry Sanders Show," died on Thursday at age 66.

Shandling, who began his showbiz career as a writer for TV sitcoms such as "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Sanford and Son," was transported from his Los Angeles home to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead, police and coroner's officials said.

The performer, who had been relatively healthy, called emergency 911 for help himself and suffered an apparent heart attack, his publicist, Alan Nierob, told Reuters. He added that Shandling had no history of heart disease, "zero."

Lieutenant Brian Elias of the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office confirmed the entertainer apparently died of natural causes. "There's nothing suspicious about the case, whatsoever," Elias said.

Tributes to the innovative performer, known for a somewhat socially awkward, nervous comic persona, immediately poured in from the comedy world at news of his death.

Fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, who just a few days ago posted a photo of herself with Shandling and actor Bob Odenkirk on social media, said on Twitter: "Sunday, my longtime friend Garry Shandling was here, making every1 laugh. I loved him. I'll miss our talks the most."

Retired late-night television host David Letterman, whose NBC show was offered to Shandling, and declined, when Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, said in statement: "Stunned and sad about Garry. Great stand up, great writer. Television shows are classics."

Other comedy luminaries paying tribute to Shandling included Steve Martin, Ricky Gervais, Amy Shumer, Jimmy Kimmel and John Cleese.   Continued...

Garry Shandling attends the party for the release of the DVD "Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show" in Beverly Hills in this file April 10, 2007 photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni