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Comedian Richard Lewis, who recently starred on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' dies at 76

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Comedian Richard Lewis, who recently starred on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' dies at 76

Comedian Richard Lewis attends an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, 2012. Lewis, an acclaimed comedian known for exploring his neuroses in frantic, stream-of-consciousness diatribes, has died at age 76.

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Comedian Richard Lewis attends an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, 2012. Lewis, an acclaimed comedian known for exploring his neuroses in frantic, stream-of-consciousness diatribes, has died at age 76.

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NEW YORK — Richard Lewis, an acclaimed comedian known for exploring his neuroses in frantic, stream-of-consciousness diatribes while dressed in all-black, leading to his nickname “The Prince of Pain,” has died. He was 76.

Lewis, who revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2023, died at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack, according to his publicist Jeff Abraham.

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A regular performer in clubs and on late-night TV for decades, Lewis also played Marty Gold, the romantic co-lead opposite Jamie Lee Curtis, in the ABC series “Anything But Love” and the reliably neurotic Prince John in “Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men In Tights.” He re-introduced himself to a new generation opposite Larry David in HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” kvetching regularly.

“I’m paranoid about everything in my life. Even at home. On my stationary bike, I have a rear-view mirror, which I’m not thrilled about,” he once joked onstage. To Jimmy Kimmel he said: “This morning, I tried to go to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I counted sheep but I only had six of them and they all had hip replacements.”

Comedy Central named Lewis one of the top 50 stand-up comedians of all time and he earned a berth in GQ magazine’s list of the “20th Century’s Most Influential Humorists.” He lent his humor for charity causes, including Comic Relief and Comedy Gives Back.

“Watching his stand-up is like sitting in on a very funny and often dark therapy session,” the Los Angeles Times said in 2014. The Philadelphia’s City Paper called him “the Jimi Hendrix of monologists.” Mel Brooks once said he “may just be the Franz Kafka of modern-day comedy.”

Following his graduation from The Ohio State University in 1969, the New York-born Lewis began a stand-up career, honing his craft on the circuit with other contemporaries also just starting out like Jay Leno, Freddie Prinze and Billy Crystal.

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He recalled Rodney Dangerfield hiring him for $75 to fill in at his New York club, Dangerfield’s. “I had a lot of great friends early on who believed in me, and I met pretty iconic people who really helped me, told me to keep working on my material. And I never looked back,” he told The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2010.

Unlike contemporary Robin Williams, Lewis allowed audiences into his world and melancholy, pouring his torment and pain onto the stage. Fans favorably compared him to the ground-breaking comedian Lenny Bruce.

“I take great pains not to be mean-spirited,” Lewis told The Palm Beach Post in 2007. “I don’t like to take real handicaps that people have to overcome with no hope in sight. I steer clear of that. That’s not funny to me. Tragedy is funny to other humorists, but it’s not to me, unless you can make a point that’s helpful.”

Singer Billy Joel has said he was referring to Lewis when he sang in “My Life” of an old friend who “bought a ticket to the West Coast/Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.”

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In 1989 at Carnegie Hall, he appeared with six feet of yellow legal sheets filled with material and taped together for a 2½-hour set that led to two standing ovations. The night was “the highlight of my career,” he told The Washington Post in 2020.

Lewis told GQ his signature look came incidentally, saying his obsession with dressing in black came from watching the television Western “Have Gun – Will Travel,” with a cowboy in all-black, when he was a kid. He also popularized the term “from hell” — as in “the date from hell” or “the job from hell.”

“That just came out of my brain one day and I kept repeating it a lot for some reason. Same thing with the black clothes. I just felt really comfortable from the early ’80s on and I never wore anything else. I never looked back.”

After getting sober from drugs and alcohol in 1994, Lewis put out his 2008 memoir, “The Other Great Depression” — a collection of fearless, essay style riffs on his life — and “Reflections from Hell.”

Lewis was the youngest of three siblings — his brother was older than him by six years, and his sister by nine. His father died young and his mother had emotional problems. “She didn’t get me at all. I owe my career to my mother. I should have given her my agent’s commission,” he told The Washington Post in 2020.

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“Looking back on it now, as a full-blown, middle-aged, functioning anxiety collector, I can admit without cringing that my parents had their fair share of tremendous qualities, yet, being human much of the day, had more than just a handful of flaws as well,” he wrote in his memoir.

Lewis quickly found a new family performing at New York’s Improv. “I was 23, and all sorts of people were coming in and out and watching me, like Steve Allen and Bette Midler. David Brenner certainly took me under his wing. To drive home to my little dump in New Jersey often knowing that Steve Allen said, ‘You got it,’ that validation kept me going in a big, big way.”

He had a cameo in “Leaving Las Vegas,” which led to his first major dramatic role as Jimmy Epstein, an addict fighting for his life in the indie film, “Drunks.” He played Don Rickles’ son on one season of “Daddy Dearest” and a rabbi on “7th Heaven.”

Lewis’s recurring role on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” can be credited directly to his friendship with fellow comedian, producer and series star Larry David. Both native Brooklynites — born in the same Brooklyn hospital — they first met and became friends as rivals while attending the same summer camp at age 13. He was cast from the beginning, bickering with David on unpaid bills and common courtesies.

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He is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky.

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Kim Kardashian Posts Photo with Taylor Swift's Frenemy Karlie Kloss

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After years of documenting Jewish food traditions, Joan Nathan focuses on her family's

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After years of documenting Jewish food traditions, Joan Nathan focuses on her family's

After decades creating and publishing recipes, cookbook author Joan Nathan has released what she said is likely her final book, a cookbook and memoir called “My Life in Recipes.”

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After decades creating and publishing recipes, cookbook author Joan Nathan has released what she said is likely her final book, a cookbook and memoir called “My Life in Recipes.”

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Joan Nathan has spent her life exploring in the kitchen, trying new dishes and recipes all year. But every spring, for the Passover Seder, she sticks with a menu that follows her own family’s traditions. The holiday starts tonight.

“I think Passover tells us who we are, and it tells us, this is my family sharing with other families. I get chills every year at Passover, because I realized that it started in ancient Israel. I mean, it’s in the Bible!”

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Joan Nathan chops up fresh herbs for her soup and rolls matzo balls in her kitchen in Washington, D.C.

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Joan Nathan chops up fresh herbs for her soup and rolls matzo balls in her kitchen in Washington, D.C.

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Nathan has written a dozen cookbooks, documenting how food traditions evolved as Jews wandered all over the world through the centuries. Now in her 80s, her new book is her most personal work yet, excavating her own culinary history in a combination memoir and cookbook called My Life in Recipes.

“I’ve been more nervous about this book than any book… It’s sort of going into my life, you know?”

Cookbook author Joan Nathan looks through old family recipe books.

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Cookbook author Joan Nathan looks through old family recipe books.

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Nathan spoke with All Things Considered in her Washington, D.C. kitchen on a late March day, while she prepped a version of a dish she’s been eating since childhood: chicken matzo ball soup. And, like many Jewish mothers and grandmothers before her, that afternoon, she fretted over whether the matzo balls would turn out the way she wanted them to. Every family has their own recipe, whether they’re light, fluffy, hard, dense.

“So my mother’s, hers were al dente,” Nathan said. “And my mother-in-law’s were very light. You know, she was straight from Poland.”

As with every immigration story, these family recipes evolved as people relocated, fleeing wars or seeking a better life for their kids. One example is a special combination Nathan adds to her own matzo balls.

Nathan prepares matzo ball soup in her kitchen.

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Nathan prepares matzo ball soup in her kitchen.

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“I’d added ginger [and] nutmeg, which I knew was what my father’s family would have used in Germany,” she explained. “Ginger nutmeg was a very common condiment combination in the 19th and early 20th century.”

For Nathan, cooking matzo ball soup for Passover, or any Jewish holiday, just feels comfortable – like home.

“It’s the smell,” she said. “You just know that smell. Like my mother’s brisket, I know; like challah, I know. I love those smells. It knows that you’re at home, that there are people that care.”

Nathan pulls two loaves of challah out of the oven at her home in Washington, D.C.

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Nathan pulls two loaves of challah out of the oven at her home in Washington, D.C.

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While the soup simmers, Joan walks over to the living room where boxes of letters and books are laid out. They’re some of the artifacts that she’s uncovered from her family, including handwritten recipe books in German. One from her great-grandmother dates back to 1927, written in purple ink full of recipes for desserts like kuchen and caramel pudding. Nathan’s new book is full of her letters, diary entries and parts of these family artifacts.

Nathan looks through old family recipe books including one that dates back to 1927.

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Nathan looks through old family recipe books including one that dates back to 1927.

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This book is also a love story. Joan Nathan writes about her courtship and marriage of 45 years to her late husband, Allan Gerson. He died just before the pandemic. She says writing this book felt almost like a form of therapy.

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“It was my savior. I would just write. And I would include him in my life, you know? So it was a way of really making him part of my life. And I think it was really helpful to me. It really gave me strength.”

A photo of her family hangs in the living rooms as cookbook author Joan Nathan prepares matzo ball soup in the kitchen of her home in Washington, D.C.

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A photo of her family hangs in the living rooms as cookbook author Joan Nathan prepares matzo ball soup in the kitchen of her home in Washington, D.C.

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My Life in Recipes also includes anecdotes from Nathan’s prolific career, her world travels and stories of her collaborations with food luminaries that include Julia Child.

“Julia – I had her 90th birthday in this – she was sitting right here on this couch. I had a party for her. She’s somebody who just kept living,” Nathan remembered.

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“And she said to me, at 90, why should I quit if I’m doing what I like to do? And she made me realize a few things: Have people that are younger around you as you get older, be positive, don’t talk about being uncomfortable or whatever. And also, to write thank-you notes to everybody.”

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Can Celine Work Without Hedi Slimane?

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Can Celine Work Without Hedi Slimane?
After growing the brand’s annual sales to nearly €2.5 billion, the star designer has been locked in a thorny contract negotiation with owner LVMH that could lead to his exit, sources say. BoF breaks down what Slimane brought to Celine and what his departure could mean.
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