Comedian Garry Shandling dies at 66 (Report)

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Comedian Gary Shandling dead at age 66

Comedian Garry Shandling died Thursday, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 66.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to an address reported to be Shandling's at 10:40 a.m. on "a medical emergency." The patient was then transported to Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica. Shandling's publicist and agency did not return requests for comment.

The comic, whose career has spanned decades in the industry, is known for influential and highly regarded turns in two comedy series: The Larry Sanders Show and It's Garry Shandling's Show.

In recent years, a more private Shandling popped up intermittently and unexpectedly in mainstream movies such as Marvel's Captain America: Winter Soldier and Iron Man 2.

Born in Chicago, Shandling's family relocated to Tucson, Ariz., to help treat his older brother, Barry, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. Barry died at age 10 but the family remained.

Shandling moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s to give comedy writing a shot. He first earned a living writing ad copy, but his dry, cerebral wit quickly earned him staff-writer gigs on such sitcoms a Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter.

In 1977, when he was 27, Shandling was in a serious car accident in Beverly Hills that nearly killed him.

"I had a vivid near-death experience that involved a voice asking, 'Do you want to continue leading Garry Shandling's life?'" he later wrote. "Without thinking, I said, 'Yes.' Since then, I've been stuck living in the physical world while knowing, without a doubt, that there's something much more meaningful within it all. That realization is what drives my life and work."

See photos of Garry Shandling throughout his career:

100 PHOTOS
Garry Shandling through the years
See Gallery
Comedian Garry Shandling dies at 66 (Report)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 07: Garry Shandling attends the 15th annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on August 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 25: Actor Garry Shandling at the Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame ceremony held on January 25, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 07: Garry Shandling attends the 15th annual Harold and Carole Pump Foundation gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on August 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 29: Comedian Garry Shandling attends the 3rd Annual Brady Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 29, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - June 21: Garry Shandling and Judd Apatow backstage at The Train Wreck Comedy Tour at The Wiltern Theater on June 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Garry Shandling and Jamie Foxx attend the 14th Annual Harold & Carole Pump Foundation Event on August 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 14: Actor Garry Shandling arrives at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez boxing match on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Showtime)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 14: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 25th American Cinematheque award ceremony at The Beverly Hilton hotel on October 14, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 06: Jack Nicholson (L) and Garry Shandling attend a basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 14: Actor Garry Shandling speaks onstage during The 25th American Cinematheque Award Honoring Robert Downey Jr. held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on October 14, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 14: Actor/comedian Garry Shandling speaks onstage during The 25th American Cinematheque Award Honoring Robert Downey Jr. held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on October 14, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Actor/comedian Garry Shandling attends the opening night arrivals of 'All New People' at Second Stage Theatre on July 25, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 14: (L-R) Actor Garry Shandling, American Cinematheque Award Recipient Robert Downey Jr. and actor Mel Gibson pose during The 25th American Cinematheque Award Honoring Robert Downey Jr. held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on October 14, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Comedian Garry Shandling speaks onstage at the First Annual Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Garry Shandling speaks onstage at The First Annual Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Actor Garry Shandling speaks onstage at Variety's Power of Comedy presented by Sims 3 in Partnership with Bing at Club Nokia on December 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
Actor/comedians Sarah Silverman (L) and Garry Shandling pose in the green room backstage at Variety's Power of Comedy presented by Sims 3 in Partnership with Bing at Club Nokia on December 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 06: Garry Shandling arrives at the 'Blue Valentine' screening during the AFI Fest 2010 2010 presented by Audi held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 6, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3827 -- Pictured: Comedian Garry Shandling during an interview on May 13, 2010 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 26: Actors Sam Rockwell and Garry Shandling arrive at the 'Iron Man 2' World Premiere at El Capitan Theatre on April 26, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 26: Actor Garry Shandling (L) and Executive Producer Susan Downey arrive at the world wide premiere of 'Iron Man 2' Premiere held at the El Capitan Theatre on April 26, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 26: Actor Garry Shandling arrives at the 'Iron Man 2' World Premiere at El Capitan Theatre on April 26, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 26: Actor Garry Shandling arrives at the 'Iron Man 2' world premiere held at El Capitan Theatre on April 26, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O+BRIEN -- Episode 91 -- Air Date 10/27/2009 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Garry Shandling during an interview with host Conan O'Brien on October 27, 2009 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(L-R) Actors Gano Grills, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, and Garry Shandling attend the Death At A Funeral Los Angeles Premiere at Pacific's Cinerama Dome on April 12, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 26: Comedian Garry Shandling attends the 2009 Fullfillment Fund annual stars benefit gala at Beverly Hills Hotel on October 26, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Comedian Garry Shandling performs onstage during the Rock A Little, Feed Alot benefit concert held at Club Nokia on September 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Actress Kathy Griffin and actor Garry Shandling attends HBO's post Emmy Awards reception at the Pacific Design Center on September 20, 2009 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 20: Actor/comedian Garry Shandling and director/writer/producer Judd Apatow arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Funny People' at the ArcLight Hollywood on July 20, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 23: Actor-comedian Garry Shandling attends the Los Angeles Lakers playoff game with the Denver Nuggets on April 23, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Tea Leoni and Garry Shandling during 'You Kill Me' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at ArcLight Hollywood in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
Klara Glowczewska, Garry Shandling and Lisa Hughes (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage for Conde Nast Traveler)
Garry Shandling and Sharon Stone during AmfAR New York City Gala Honoring John Demsey, Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Roedy - Inside at Cipriani's 42nd Street in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Garry Shandling (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Garry Shandling and Eddie Izzard (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling during DreamWorks' 'Over The Hedge' Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Chris Henchy, daughter Rowan Francis, Garry Shandling and Brooke Shields (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Garry Shandling during 'Over The Hedge' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Catherine O'Hara and Steve Carell (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage)
Garry Shandling and Doris Roberts at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)
Garry Shandling during 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Aspen - Larry Sanders Tribute in Aspen, Colorado, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Sharon Stone and Garry Shandling during 2006 Santa Barbara International Film Festival - 'Special Thanks to Roy London' at Victoria Hall Theater in Santa Barbara, California, United States. (Photo by Milan Ryba/FilmMagic)
Garry Shandling during The Comedy Festival - Honoring: Jerry Seinfeld - Show at Palace Ballroom at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for HBO LA)
Chris Rock, Garry Shandling and Jerry Seinfeld during The Comedy Festival - Honoring: Jerry Seinfeld - Show at Palace Ballroom at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for HBO LA)
Garry Shandling during The Comedy Festival - Honoring: Jerry Seinfeld - Show at Palace Ballroom at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for HBO LA)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 11: Comedian Garry Shandling poses at the afterparty for the premiere of Universal Picture's 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' at the Cinerama Dome Theater on August 11, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 11: Actors Ben Stiller (L) and Garry Shandling pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Universal Picture's 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' at the Cinerama Dome Theater on August 11, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - MAY 6: (US TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actor Garry Shandling gives a speech at the 5th Annual Project A.L.S. Benefit Gala at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel on May 6, 2005 in Century City, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 3: Actors Kevin Nealon and Garry Shandling pose at 'Rock the Cure', an auction of 50 custon-made Gibson guitars, designed by celebrities and rock stars, to benefit The Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 3, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Garry Shandling and Brooke Shields during The John Varvatos 3rd Annual Stuart House Charity Benefit - Inside and Arrivals at John Varvatos Boutique in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage for Full Picture - Los Angeles)
Garry Shandling and Jack Nicholson during 'Spanglish' Los Angeles Premiere - After Party at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
CULVER CITY, CA - DECEMBER 9: (US TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) (L-R) Actor Garry Shandling and President of Sony Production Doug Belgerd attend the after party following Los Angeles premiere of Columbia Pictures 'Spanglish' at the Sony Pictures Plaza on December 9, 2004 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- -- Air Date 09/27/2004 -- Episode 2786 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Garry Shandling during an interview with host Jay Leno on September 27, 2004 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19: Host Garry Shandling on stage during the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 19, 2004 Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
David Duchovny, Tea Leoni and Garry Shandling (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Jerry Seinfeld , Garry Shandling, Chris Rock and Jessica Seinfeld (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Brandon Lloyd and Garry Shandling during 'Against The Ropes' Premiere at Graumann's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Garry Shandling and Denis Leary during 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's...' - A Benefit Evening for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research - 2003 - Show at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Garry Shandling during 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's...' - A Benefit Evening for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research - 2003 - Show at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Garry Shandling during 'Elf' Special Screening - Los Angeles at The Grove Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage for New Line Cinema)
405074 45: Actor/comedian Garry Shandling arrives for a party to launch the Tribeca Film Festival May 7, 2002 in New York City. (Photo by Keith D. Bedford/Getty Images)
Garry Shandling during City of Hope Spirit of Life Dinner Honoring Edgar Bronfman Jr. - Show at Universal Studios Backlot in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Tea Leoni and Garry Shandling at the premiere of 'The Family Man' at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Ca. 12/12/00. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.)
368905 01: Garry Shandling attends a performance by Eric Idle, May 5, 2000 at the Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, CA. (Photo By Jason Kirk/Online USA)
UNSPECIFIED - DECEMBER 11: Medium shot at hotel front desk of Warren Beatty as Mike Gambril signing chit of paper for woman while talking with Garry Shandling as Kip DeMay. (Photo by David James/Warner Bros./Getty Images)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 15: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 11th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival - Awards Ceremony on January 15, 2000 at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Garry Shandling & Linda Fiorentino during 1999 Eric Clapton concert & Giorgio Armani fashion show in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 4: Comedian Garry Shandling and actress Sarah Jessica Parker attend the Museum of Television & Radio Honors Dan Rather and Garry Shandling on February 4, 1999 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE 50TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Garry Shandling, Peter Tolan winners of Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for 'Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series' during the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on September 13, 1998 -- (Photo by: Margaret C. Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE 50TH PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series HBO's 'The Larry Sanders Show' Garry Shandling during the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on September 13, 1998 (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Jeff Bewkes & Garry Shandling during 1997 Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Garry Shandling & Bette Midler during 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 2: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 17th Annual CableACE Awards on December 2, 1995 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 731 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor/Comedian Garry Shandling and actress Yasmine Bleeth during interview with Jay Leno on July 18/1995 (Photo by Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 8: Actor Garry Shandling attends a Special Reading of Alan Zweibel's Book 'Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner - A Sort of Love Story' to Benefit Gilda's House on September 8, 1994 at the Westwood Playhouse in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Garry Shandling, Michelle Garces Williams and Robin Williams (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 15th Annual CableACE Awards on January 16, 1994 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - JANUARY 26: Athlete Keith Jackson and actor Garry Shandling attend the 31st Annual National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) Convention and Exhibition on January 26, 1994 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: Television producer Michael J. Fuchs and actor Garry Shandling attend the 15th Annual CableACE Awards on January 16, 1994 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: Actor Garry Shandling and girlfriend Linda Doucett attend the 15th Annual CableACE Awards on January 16, 1994 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 15: Actor Garry Shandling attends the HBO's Television Comedy Special 'Comic Relief VI' to Benefit America's Homeless on January 15, 1994 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Garry Shandling, Linda Doucett and Jeffrey Tambor during 1993 Emmy Awards Governors Ball Party in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Garry Shandling, Michael Fuchs, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Actor Garry Shandling and girlfriend Linda Doucett attend the 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Beverly Hills Premiere on November 22, 1993 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 237 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Garry Shandling during an interview with host Jay Leno on June 1, 1993-- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Tracey Ullman, Garry Shandling and guests during HBO's TCA 1993 at Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Garry Shandling during HBO's TCA 1993 at Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Actor Garry Shandling and actor Keenen Ivory Wayans attend the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's Newsmaker Luncheon: 'Comedy Royalty: Stand-Up Champions of Television' Panel Discussion on November 11, 1992 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 14: Actor Garry Shandling attends Sam Kinison's Funeral Service on April 14, 1992 at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 16: Actor Garry Shandling attends the HBO's Television Comedy Special 'Comic Relief V' to Benefit America's Homeless on May 16, 1992 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actor Garry Shandling and girlfriend Linda Doucett attend 'The Fisher King' Beverly Hills Premiere on September 16, 1991 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 29: Actor Garry Shandling attends a performance of the play 'Love Letters' on May 29, 1990 at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 13: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 12th Annual CableACE Awards on January 13, 1991 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MARCH 18: Actor Garry Shandling attends the HBO Television Special 'Comic Relief III' to Raise Money for America's Homeless on March 18, 1989 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 21: Actor Garry Shandling attends the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards on February 21, 1990 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MARCH 18: Actor Garry Shandling and girlfriend Linda Doucett and actress Catherine O'Hara attend the HBO Television Special 'Comic Relief III' to Raise Money for America's Homeless on March 18, 1989 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 17: Actor Garry Shandling attends the Second Annual American Comedy Awards on May 17, 1988 at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Aired 10/27/1986 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bandleader Doc Severinsen, actor Martin Mull, guest host Garry Shandling -- Photo by: Wendy Perl/NBCU Photo Bank
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 20: Actor Garry Shandling attends the Eighth Annual CableACE Awards on January 20, 1987 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Aired 03/08/1981 -- Pictured: Comedian Garry Shandling performs -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

From that moment on, Shandling decided to concentrate on stand-up comedy, finding the constraints of traditional sitcom writing limiting. He started performing at the Comedy Store in L.A. a year later, and quickly developed a stage persona that capitalized on his real-life neuroses.

In 2007, Shandling told Esquire, "I remember when I was a struggling comic appearing for the first time in Las Vegas. Don Rickles came in to watch the new guy. Afterward, he came backstage, and I asked him if he thought I was funny. He said, 'You know when you're funny. You don't have to ask.' And he was right."

Shandling's career-making moment — a spot on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show — came on March 18, 1981. Carson immediately warmed to Shandling and the comic was soon a regular fixture on the late-night talker, eventually replacing Joan Rivers (who Carson shunned after she left to host her own show on the fledgling Fox network in 1986) as the permanent guest host.

In the meantime, he forged a reputation as one of premium cable's most dependable stars, headlining a series of specials for Showtime and HBO. In 1985, he also developed his first sitcom — It's Garry Shandling's Show — for Showtime. Meta before that concept was commonplace in the comedy world, the series' characters all openly acknowledged being characters in a TV comedy.

Even its catchy theme song broke the fourth wall, with self-explanatory lyrics that describe how the tune came into existence: "Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song."

The experimental series was a critical success in the fledgling world of scripted cable, and ran for 72 episodes on Showtime from 1986 to 1990. Fox, meanwhile, aired a toned-down version on Sunday nights from 1988 to 1990, introducing Shandling's comedy style to an even wider audience and setting the stage for his next series, the groundbreaking The Larry Sanders Showon HBO. He also served as a popular awards show host, emceeing the Grammys in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994, and the Emmys in 2000 and 2004.

In 1992, Jay Leno was named as retiring Carson's successor. Shandling was reportedly offered CBS' The Late Late Show at the time, but declined. He also turned down a reported $5 million offer to take over from David Letterman after he departed Late Night in1993, choosing instead to work with HBO to develop a backstage series set at a fictional talk show.

Larry Sanders premiered in August 1992 and ran through May 1998, totaling 89 half-hour episodes. The darkly comic show, which starred Shandling as a morose talk show host surrounded by a constantly scheming and bickering staff, took full advantage of its behind-the-scenes Hollywood milieu, with stars regularly appearing as parody versions of themselves, years before Entourage traded in the trope.

Among them: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Courteney Cox, David Letterman, Chris Farley, Sharon Stone and David Duchovny (who was involved in a running gag in which Sanders thinks Duchovny is trying to seduce him). A pre-Daily Show Jon Stewart was featured on the series as well, playing Sanders' guest host. (Sanders grew jealous and insecure that Stewart was booking higher-profile guests in his absence.) A full list of celebrities who played themselves on the show is available here.

Among the standouts on the series, the first cable series to be nominated in major Emmy categories, were Jeffrey Tambor, who played Sanders' desperate-to-be-liked sidekick, Hank Kingsley, and Rip Torn, Larry's "fixer" executive producer, Artie, who keeps his star's many demons at bay while playing staff peacekeeper.

The Hollywood Reporter said in its review: "Despite its generally unsympathetic cast of characters, most of whom seem willing to lie, cheat and steal to achieve their relentlessly greed, superficial goals, the show is a winner because the very funny scripts are so finely tuned that industry-wise viewers will barely have time to catch their breath from one yuk to the next."

Fellow comedians and other stars react to Garry Shandling's death:

46 PHOTOS
Stars react to Garry Shandling's death
See Gallery
Comedian Garry Shandling dies at 66 (Report)
RIP the great Garry Shandling. Surely, one of the most influential comedians of a generation.
Goodbye Gary Shandling thank you for your kindness and your generosity and for making me laugh so damn much
One of the funniest of all, the beloved and very complicated Gary Shandling has died.
Sunday, my longtime friend Garry Shandling was here, making every1 laugh. I loved him. I'll miss our talks the most. https://t.co/Ud8AQXNBXN
Garry Shandling was as kind and generous as he was funny and that is saying a lot.
.@GarryShandling no no no. I love you. I cannot accept that you are gone. Rest in Power my hero. #RIPGarry
Not Garry Shandling!!!!!! A treasure!!!!!! How sad.
LARRY SANDERS FOREVER. Such sad news. #RIPGarryShandling
No!!! Not #GaryShandling!! I am devastated. Grew up with Larry Sanders. Can't process this. RIP. Beyond sad. Thoughts are with his family.
Wait, what? Gary Shandling? No.
I am shocked that Gary Shandling has passed. I was so thrilled to have worked with him on The Larry Sanders Show. So funny & witty. RIP.
Gary Shandling was a comedy hero of mine. He once sent me a thank you note that read, "Thanks for nothing." RIP https://t.co/DmCy2JZcGj
Peace to a very funny man Garry Shandling
Sad today. My friend @GarryShandling passed. He encouraged me from the very start. A few weeks ago he told me life was short and enjoy it.
I can't........ https://t.co/zMMX17Rb5X
Sad to hear about Garry Shandling's death. He made me laugh.
Saddened over Garry Shandling. He was a comedy idol of mine. He leaves behind the greatest single-camera comedy of all time. #LarrySanders
Absolutely can't process the loss of Garry Shandling. Such a genius, such a wonderful man, such an inspiration. I was so honored to know him
Garry Shandling, you came to an early promotional screening of CYRUS and hung w/me & @jayduplass afterwards at PF Changs. Thank you.
"Nice guys finish first. If you don't know that, then you don't know where the finish line is." Garry Shandling https://t.co/goJsDx6Cl8
R.I.P. Garry Shandling. I’m so shocked and saddened. He was brilliantly funny, and so kind to me.
The great Garry Shandling's work is such a touchstone for me that I was actually discussing him moments before I heard the sad news. RIP
If it's true I am heartsick @GarryShandling has died? One in a million brilliant people say it's not so
R.I.P. Garry Shandling. I am so saddened to hear this. Brilliantly funny and such a great guy. He will be so missed.
I'm both shocked & saddened at the passing of Garry Shandling. He'll forever remain a comedic legend. #RIP
Can't believe that I just heard Garry Shandling died. I'm shattered.
This Garry Shandling news is devastating.
OMG not @GarryShandling, I'm heartbroken and will always remember our laughs we shared on the set of #XFiles #RIP
So saddened by the death of Garry Shandling. Brilliantly funny guy. And a sweetheart, too. Did his show twice. RIP.
This really hurts. Rest In Peace, @GarryShandling.
RIP Garry Shandling. #Irreplaceable
Heartbreaking news about Garry Shandling. Just heartbreaking.
He was as deep as he was funny. I wanted Garry Shandling to live forever and I somehow thought he would.
Rest in Peace, Garry Shandling. His work, including the Larry Sanders Show, was an enormous influence.
Oh my ..GOD will laugh now as he never has Before REST IN PEACE .. Wayyyy to soon https://t.co/c5T4O6kBHg
Nooooo!!! I love Garry Shandling. So sad!! #pioneer
Dammit. He was the best. So sad. RIP Garry Shandling
R.I.P. @GarryShandling. A great career and an iconic television series. #larrysanders :(
Garry Shandling is one of the great teachers in my life. He taught me about subtext, honesty, compassion, the best kind of comedy. Much love
So sad to hear about @GarryShandling he was one of my favorites #ripgarryshandling https://t.co/nwA3OxVR7M
Gary Shandling was a comedy hero of mine. He once sent me a thank you note that read, "Thanks for nothing." RIP https://t.co/DmCy2JZcGj
Garry Shandling you were and always will be comedy gold. #gonewaytoosoon #rip #alwaysfunny
I'm both shocked & saddened at the passing of Garry Shandling. He'll forever remain a comedic legend. #RIP
#GaryShandling NO!! What happened?!! My first job in LA. NO!
Gary Shandling was to comedy what grumpy cat is to the internet. #gamechanger. RIP #garyshandling.
Oh no RIP @garyshandling Such a talent.
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Judd Apatow — who cites Shandling as having given him one of his first breaks, writing gags for an award show — also worked as a writing producer on the series, once telling THR, "I learned almost everything I know from Garry." The series won two Emmys for writing and directing for its final episode, and one for Torn in 1996 for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series.

"Today we lost a comedic genius and a very dear friend. Garry entertained millions of people and was an inspiration to generations of comedians, actors and writers. He will be greatly missed," says Steve Mosko, chairman of Sony Pictures Television, the studio that produced and owns The Larry Sanders Show.

In the years that followed, Shandling withdrew from the public eye and turned to Buddhism, surfacing occasionally to cameo in mainstream comedy films. In 2015, he sat alongside another comedy legend, Jerry Seinfeld, in a 1979 Porches 930 for Seinfeld's web series,Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

The pair, whose careers paralleled closely, reminisced fondly in the episode, unfortunately titled "It's Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive."

A 2010 profile in GQ called Shandling "the comedian's comedian's comedian." It described him as being an avid basketball fanatic who hosted game-viewing parties at his Brentwood home that typically turned into matches on his backyard court, where regulars like Duchovny, Sarah Silverman and Peter Berg faced off with the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler.

While he never married or had children, his devotion to Buddhism only deepened — a faith whose origins lay in that life-altering car wreck back in 1977 that informed all of his work.

"I have this very abstract idea in my head," he said of new comedy material he was working on at the time. "I wouldn't even want to call it stand-up, because stand-up conjures in one's mind a comedian with a microphone standing onstage under a spotlight telling jokes to an audience."

Shandling continued: "The direction I'm going in is eventually you won't know if it's a joke or not. What I want to happen is that I talk for an hour and the audience doesn't realize it is funny until they're driving home."

Read Full Story

People are Reading