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Remembering Richard Lewis: His best movie and TV show performances

These were the best roles of Richard Lewis' career

Richard Lewis in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Richard Lewis, a popular comedian and actor whose career included a stint on one of HBO’s best original shows, Curb Your Enthusiasm, passed away at the age of 76 from a heart attack on February 27. Lewis had been battling health problems for the last few years, including Parkinson’s disease. Regardless, the comedy world was stunned by his death earlier this week.

Via CBS News, Lewis’ longtime friend and Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star, Larry David, shared the following statement about his death: “Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

To celebrate Lewis’ life, we’re taking a look back at some of his best performances from his 53-year career in show business. These are the best Richard Lewis movies and TV shows.

Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis in Anything But Love.
20th Century Studios TV

Anything But Love

In 1989, Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis co-headlined a sitcom called Anything But Love on ABC. Lewis played Marty Gold, a columnist for Chicago Monthly, while Curtis portrayed Hannah Miller, a former teacher who wanted to reinvent herself as a writer. After Marty and Hannah bonded on an airplane flight, he offered to help her get a job at his magazine.

The show’s four-season run got a lot of mileage out of the courtship of Hannah and Marty, and the chemistry between Lewis and Curtis was highly praised. Their respective characters didn’t become a committed couple until the end of the third season, but their spark was evident from the start. Unfortunately, the show was abruptly canceled by 20th Century Fox TV over fears that it wouldn’t be profitable in syndication. To date, Anything But Love has not been made available to stream, but two volumes have been released on DVD.

Richard Lewis as Prince John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
20th Century Studios

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Director Mel Brooks cast Lewis as Prince John, the main villain in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, a comedy that spoofed the then-recent Kevin Costner-led film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Cary Elwes portrayed Robin in this movie, but Lewis still stole a lot of laughs every time he was on screen.

Through the efforts of his right-hand man, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees), Prince John had stolen the throne of his brother, King Richard (Patrick Stewart). When Robin Hood, Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck), Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle), and their friends were triumphant in the end, Richard returned from the Crusades and sentenced Prince John to a fate worse than death. Prince John’s reaction to his punishment gave Lewis one of the last laughs in the movie.

Richard Lewis and Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas.

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas was primarily a showcase for Nicolas Cage, but Lewis did have a small part as Peter, a Hollywood associate of screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Cage). It was a rare dramatic role for Lewis, as his character was aghast at Ben’s self-destructive ways. As a nod to the friendship they once shared, Peter gives the despondent Ben all the cash that he had on him. But that final gift also came with a request that Peter break off all contact with him, which spared Ben the ordeal of witnessing Peter drinking himself to death over the course of the movie.

Patrick Stewart and Richard Lewis in Blunt Talk.

Blunt Talk

Although Lewis was not a regular cast member of Blunt Talk, he did have a memorable role as Dr. Weiss, the psychiatrist of Patrick Stewart’s Walter Blunt. Most of the comedy on this show centered around Stewart’s character, as Blunt struggled to salvage his TV journalism career after a scandal. Part of Blunt’s rehabilitation meant seeing Dr. Weiss. By this point in his career, Lewis was an elder statesman of comedy, but that didn’t mean that he was anything less than stellar in his smaller role.

Richard Lewis and Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

In what was perhaps the greatest role of his life, Lewis was able to portray a fictionalized version of himself opposite Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Lewis and David had actually met each other in real life when they were children and when they were up-and-coming comedians, which is why they initially had a mutual dislike for one another. Some of that dynamic was kept in the show, as Lewis could best be described as David’s frenemy.

Yet even in their hilariously twisted portrayals of themselves, there were signs of the friendship between them. In the fifth season, Lewis was dying, and he badly needed a kidney transplant. David, being David, initially balked at donating a kidney to save Lewis. But after a brief conversion to Christianity out of a mistaken belief that he was adopted, David gave Lewis his kidney. In a perfect touch of black comedy, Lewis barely cared that David almost died after the procedure as he enjoyed his new lease on life.

Because of his declining health, Lewis’ appearances in the later seasons were kept to a minimum. However, Lewis did film his part for the show’s 12th and final season, which is currently being aired on HBO.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell is a freelance writer for The Manual, Digital Trends, Fandom, Yahoo Entertainment, and more!
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