Famous Freemason - Richard Belzer
"I was thrown out of every school I ever went to."
Richard Jay Belzer was an American actor, stand-up comedian, and author. He was best known for his role as BPD Detective, NYPD Detective/Sergeant, and DA Investigator John Munch, whom he portrayed as a regular cast member on the NBCpolice drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as in guest appearances on several other series. He portrayed the character for 23 years, from 1993 until retiring in 2016.
Belzer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on August 4, 1944, to a Jewish family. He described his mother as frequently physically abusive, and he declared that his comedy career began when trying to make his mother laugh to distract her from abusing him and his brother. After graduating from Fairfield Warde High School, Belzer worked as a reporter for the Bridgeport Post.
Belzer attended Dean College, which was then known as Dean Junior College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, but was expelled.
After his first divorce, Belzer relocated to New York City, moved in with singer Shelley Ackerman, and began working as a stand-up comic at Pips, The Improv, and Catch a Rising Star. He participated in the Channel One comedy group that satirized television and became the basis for the cult movie The Groove Tube, in which Belzer played the costar of the ersatz TV show The Dealers.
Belzer was the audience warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live and made three guest appearances on the show between 1975 and 1980. He also opened for musician Warren Zevon during his tour supporting the release of his album Excitable Boy.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Belzer became an occasional film actor. A short skit of a younger Belzer can be found on Sesame Street in a season 9 episode in 1978 when two young men attempt a picnic and boat ride, only to be thwarted by a dog who eats their food. He is noted for minor roles in Fame, Café Flesh, Night Shift, and Scarface. He appeared in the music videos for the Mike + The Mechanics song "Taken In" and for the Pat Benatar song "Le Bel Age", as well as the Kansas video "Can't Cry Anymore". He appeared in A Very Brady Sequel as an LAPD detective.
In the 1990s, Belzer appeared frequently on television. He was a regular on The Flash as a news anchor and reporter. In several episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he played Inspector William Henderson.
He followed that with starring roles on the Baltimore-based Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999) and the New York City-based Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–2013), portraying police detective John Munch in both series. Barry Levinson, Executive Producer of Homicide, said Belzer was a "lousy actor" in audition when he read lines from the script for "Gone for Goode", the first episode in the series. Levinson asked Belzer to take time to reread and practice the material, then read it again. At his second reading, Levinson said Belzer was "still terrible", but that the actor eventually found confidence in his performance.
In addition, Belzer played Munch in episodes on seven other series and in a sketch on one talk show, making Munch the only fictional character to appear on eleven different television shows played by a single actor. These shows were on six different networks:
Law & Order (NBC)
The X-Files (Fox)
The Beat (UPN)
Arrested Development (Fox)
The Wire (HBO)
30 Rock (NBC)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Bro. Belzer was a member of Publicity Lodge No. 1000 in New York.