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Comedian Garry Shandling Dies of Heart Attack at Age 66

Garry Shandling  died today at age 66. (@GarryShandling)
Garry Shandling died today at age 66. (@GarryShandling)

Comedian and actor Garry Shandling, best known for his work on the parody late-night talk show series “The Larry Sanders Show” and his quirky sitcom “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” died today at age 66.

Los Angeles police Officer Tony Im said Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics were called to Shandling’s home, and the comedian was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. TMZ reported that Shandling suffered a heart attack.

LAFD officials would not provide details, citing federal healthcare privacy laws, but said crews responded to a medical emergency call at 10:40 a.m. in the 1700 block of North Correa Way.

A Chicago native, Shandling broke into show business writing for shows such as “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “Sanford and Son.” As a stand-up comedian, he became a favorite of Johnny Carson with his appearance on “The Tonight Show,” so much so that he had repeated stints as guest host in Carson’s absence.

He gained cult fame with his off-beat Showtime comedy “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” which debuted in the mid-80s and ran for 72 episodes. The show became a hit thanks to the combination of Shandling’s deadpan wit and its tendency for characters to talk to the audience.

At the end of the show’s run, Shandling created “The Larry Sanders Show,” a comic behind-the-scenes take on a fictional talk show. The show earned him a pair of Golden Globe nominations for best actor in a television comedy series. The show also earned a pile of Primetime Emmy nominations. Shandling shared a comedy series writing Emmy for writing in 1998.

Shandling also wrote and starred in the 2000 film “What Planet Are You From?” He most recently appeared on screen in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” His other credits include “Iron Man 2,” “Zoolander” and “Trust the Man.”

Shandling is credited with inspiring or influencing an array of comedians, many of whom expressed condolences via Twitter.

Jimmy Kimmel wrote that Shandling “was as kind and generous as he was funny and that is saying a lot.” Ricky Gervais called him “one of the most influential comedians of a generation.” And Amy Schumer wrote, “Goodbye Garry Shandling, thank you for your kindness and your generosity and for making me laugh so damn much.”

Seth MacFarlane said Shandling “was a comedy idol of mine. He leaves behind the greatest single-camera comedy of all time. #LarrySanders.”

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