Writer, actor, producer and comedian Garry Shandling, best known for his long-running HBO series The Larry Sanders Show and for his groundbreaking 1980s sitcom It’s Garry Shandling’s Show has died in Los Angeles from undisclosed causes. He was 66.
Born in Chicago in 1949, Shandling was raised in Tuscon, Arizona and attended the University of Arizona, majoring in Marketing. He moved to Los Angeles in 1973, working in Advertising before breaking into entertainment in 1975 with a script for Sandford and Son. During this period he wrote for Welcome Back, Kotter and was briefly involved with Three’s Company.
Shandling began doing stand up comedy in 1978 after becoming frustrated with what he said was the “formulaic writing” common on situation comedies. He eventually caught the attention of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and made his first appearance on the program in 1981. He would go on to be a regular guest host until 1987.
In 1986 he co-created It’s Garry Shandling’s Show with Alan Zweibel for Showtime. The groundbreaking series was a surreal, postmodernist parody of the sitcom genre starring Shandling as an exaggerated version of himself who knew that he was a character on a television show. Notable for frequent breaking of the fourth wall, Shandler and his co-stars frequently interacted with the audience, called attention to the set and budgetary limitations, and often made the audience part of episode storylines.