LOS ANGELES – Comedian and actor Garry Shandling, best known for his work on the pioneering cable television comedy series, The Larry Sanders Show, died on Thursday at age 66, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
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, LAPD officer Aareon Jefferson said.
The circumstances of his death were not immediately confirmed, but the celebrity news outlet TMZ.com reported Shandling suffered a heart attack.
Stars took to Twitter to relay their thoughts and memories of the comedy icon.
“The King family is shocked and saddened by Garry Shandling’s passing,” said renowned television interviewer Larry King on Twitter. “Brilliant, funny and genuinely kind. A very rare combination.”
“Saddened over Garry Shandling,” Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane said. “He was a comedy idol of mine. He leaves behind the greatest single-camera comedy of all time.”
“Garry Shandling was as kind and generous as he was funny,” Tweeted Jimmy Kimmel, “and that is saying something.”
The Larry Sanders Show, which ran from 1992 to 1998 on HBO, starred Shandling as the satirically exaggerated version of himself hosting a fictional late-night TV talk show. The show drew on his real-life experiences as a stand-up comic and frequent guest host for NBC’s The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.
Shandling won an Emmy in 1998 for his writing on the series finale. The show, which co-starred Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn, was one of the first big cable TV successes in the early days of HBO and is seen as a forerunner for parody-heavy comedy hits as The Office, 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Shandling appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in January. Watch the full episode here.
–Reuters plus Staff reports