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NBC Insider Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Law & Order: SVU Stars Beautifully Tribute Richard Belzer in Wake of His Passing

Rest in peace, Richard.

By Jackie Manno
Bensler Get Steamy and Almost Kiss | NBC’s Law & Order: SVU

Former Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Richard Belzer sadly passed away on February 19, 2023 at the age of 78. He played the highly memorable character Detective John Munch from 1999-2016, appearing in 326 episodes.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

Belzer will be dearly missed. Shortly after his death, SVU cast and crew took to their social media accounts to pay tribute to the late actor, honoring his spirit.

“Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I can hear them laughing already. I love you so very much, now and forever,” the always empathetic Mariska Hargitay lovingly posted on her Instagram page.

Christopher Meloni added a sentimental photo of himself and Belzer posing with their arms around each other, with Belzer wearing his signature sunglasses. “Richard 'The Belz' Belzer. A beautiful soul, a dapper dresser, with the spirit of a child. Never met anyone like him, and I never will again. Ur last words have helped make ur passing easier to take,” Meloni captioned his post.

Former co-star Ice T shared a snapshot of himself and Belzer from the SVU set, posing dramatically in character. “Highs and Lows… After one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I wake up to the news I lost my friend today. Belz is gone.. Damn it! But remember this..’When you ARE having real fun and are Truly Happy. ENJOY it to the fullest! Cause Pain is inevitably coming.’ I’ll miss you Homie 🙏” he captioned wholeheartedly.

Meanwhile, SVU executive producer Dick Wolf released a statement to People recalling fond memories of the actor. (For context: Bezler originated the character of John Munch on the NBC police drama Homicide: Life on the Street.) "I first worked with Richard on the Law & Order/Homicide crossover and loved the character so much, I told Tom [Fontana] that I wanted to make him one of the original characters on SVU," Wolf told the outlet. "The rest is history. Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional, and we will all miss him very much."

Rest in peace, Richard.

Watch Law & Order: SVU on NBC Thursdays at 9/8c and next day on Peacock.