HBO News Blog

Gary Shandling, Who Was HBO’s LARRY SANDERS, Has Died

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 26, 2016 to HBO Classics, HBO News

Surely you know by now that American comedian, actor, writer, producer and director Garry Shandling died on 03.24.16 at the age of 66.  HBO stated,

“Garry ushered in the modern period of original programming at HBO with his brilliant masterpiece, The Larry Sanders Show. All of us at HBO have a special place in our hearts for him, not only for his enormous talent but for his kindness and decency. We will miss him terribly.”

He was a comedic master of observational comedy and satire and played it up well. Before that though his start in the industry was writing for the sitcoms Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter if you remember those. His stand-up start was at the best place possible at the time which was The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was a popular enough guest there to co-host in Carson’s absence from time to time. Obviously he got passed over, like many did, to ever take on that job permanently.

He did a stint on Showtime with It’s Garry Shandling’s Show after that but his success didn’t really take off until his following gig starting in 1992 and ran for a total of six seasons. HBO loyalists know him as the star of THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW Not only was that the title of his show, but the name of the fictional show the series was all about. Instead of weeping over a real late night desk deal Shandling used his masterful play of satire to skewer the industry instead and he and all involved did it to great acclaim. The show won American Comedy, British Comedy, CableACE, Peabody and Emmy Awards and was nominated for Golden Globes, Writer’s Guild and Director’s Guild Awards.

It was a successful and unprecedented series for Shandling and HBO. It did great play with its long roster of guest stars who came on the fictional show to spoof their own celebrity status, it capitalized on the device of the actor playing himself (no, Larry David was not the first) and the show was the first to get a bit bawdy and profane on cable and we know where that led HBO.

All the ingenuity was at the control of Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein. Together along such talent as Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, Penny Johnson, Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven and Wallace Langham they crafted a witty, snarky show that helped launch HBO as an entertainment destination. The New York Times called it “a comedy series so funny and risqué as to make Seinfeld look positively bland.”

Shandling also appeared in a stand-up routine called GARY SHANDLING: STANDUP AND several of the COMIC RELIEF events, but his biggest contribution was as the brilliant creator and star of THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW and if you never got a chance to see the show than you are in luck. HBO has announced that Shandling’s penultimate series will return to HBO sometime soon. It just so happens that Sony Television’s holding of the series has expired and Shandling himself was looking into returning all 89 episodes to the HBO catalog. Though there is no definite date set yet the series will appear on HBONow/Go at some point in the near future. HBOWatch will let you know when that is. When we do we suggest you watch it because THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW is clearly an HBO Classic and that is all due to the late, great Garry Shandling.






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