Groundbreaking comic Garry Shandling, best known for pioneering the faux docudrama and the shows It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show, has died at 66.
Los Angeles police officers were sent to his home Thursday in response to a report of a medical emergency, according to the Associated Press.
Officer Tony Im said Shandling was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, the AP reported. There were no details about the cause of death, Im said, adding that police will conduct an investigation.
A coroner’s official, Lt David Smith told the AP that Shandling’s death appeared to be from natural causes and no autopsy was planned. Medical records will be used to determine how the comedian died.
Shandling’s art-imitates-life creation, The Larry Sanders Show, inspired artists such as Ricky Gervais, who co-created The Office with fellow British comedian Stephen Merchant.
“RIP the great Garry Shandling,” Gervaistweeted on Thursday. “Surely one of the most influential comedians of a generation.”
Shandling was born in Chicago and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, beginning as an advertising copywriter before getting a job writing for the sitcom Sanford and Son. He performed standup comedy and became a regular guest host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
It’s Garry Shandling’s Show first graced American TV sets in 1986, with the eponymous protagonist portraying a high-strung comedian whose love life was on the rocks. He mocked his own looks, poked fun at his Jewish angst and skewered real-life celebrities.
The Larry Sanders Show debuted in 1992, earning the comedian cult status and numerous awards.
Actor Bob Odenkirk, a close friend of Shandling, said in a statement that Shandling “was a guiding voice of comedy”.
“He set the standard and we’re all still trying to meet it,” the statement continued. “He gave us all opportunities to learn how to do the best work of our lives. But, more importantly, as I knew him these last few years, he was a person who never stopped trying to be a better person. That’s yet another way he inspired me and I’m sure many others who knew him.”
Soon after news of the comic’s death broke, friends of Shandling as well as fans of his work tweeted testimonials.
Comedian and actor Steve Martin said that Shandling “was a very special comedian with a beautiful and unpredictable mind”.
Actor and singer Josh Groban tweeted, “Nooooo!!! I love Garry Shandling. So sad!! #pioneer”
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, comedian Bob Saget and filmmaker Judd Apatow, the latter of whom worked with Shandling on The Larry Sanders Show, all paid tribute.
Talk show host Seth Meyers added, “Heartbreaking news about Garry Shandling. Just heartbreaking.”
“Sunday, my longtime friend Garry Shandling was here, making every1 laugh,” tweeted comedian Kathy Griffin. “I loved him. I’ll miss our talks the most.”
Merchant mourned: “The great Garry Shandling’s work is such a touchstone for me that I was actually discussing him moments before I heard the sad news. RIP.”
In a statement, Universal Talent Agency, which represented Shandling, said that he “was an irrepressible force in comedy and in life, and his body of work will forever be cherished. He brought a smile to our faces on screen and in person, and was a most generous mentor to so many talented comedic minds.”
“It was a true privilege to have him in our lives as both a friend and client,” the statement continued. “We will miss him dearly.”