Garry Emmanuel Shandling
November 29, 1949 – March 24, 2016
Thursday, March 24, 2016
My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don't really know me
- Garry Shandling
His persona was an anxiety-ridden, grimacing, guarded, confused man on the verge of losing control. After a couple of years on the road, a talent scout from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson booked him to appear as a guest in 1981. Shandling substituted for Carson on a regular basis until 1987, when he left to focus on his cable show leaving Jay Leno as permanent guest host and Carson's eventual successor.
In 1984, he performed his first stand-up special, Garry Shandling: Alone in Vegas, for Showtime, followed by a second televised special in 1986, The Garry Shandling Show: 25th Anniversary Special, also for Showtime. In 1991, a third special, Garry Shandling: Stand-Up, was part of the HBO Comedy Hour.
The series subverted the standard sitcom format by having its characters openly acknowledge that they were all part of a TV show. Building on a concept that harked back to The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, in which George Burns would frequently break the "fourth wall" and speak directly to the audience, Shandling's show went so far as to incorporate the audience and elements of the studio itself into the storylines, calling attention to the artifice of the show.
The show was nominated for four Emmy Awards, including one for Shandling. He won an American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performance in a Series, and won four Cable ACE awards, two for Best Comedy Series. The show also won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy from the Television Critics Association.
In 1993, NBC offered Shandling $5 million to take over the late-night talk show Late Night when host David Letterman announced his highly publicized move to CBS, but Shandling declined. He was subsequently offered The Late Late Show but also declined in favor of doing The Larry Sanders Show. In 1992, Shandling launched another critical and commercial success by creating the mock behind-the-scenes talk show sitcom The Larry Sanders Show. It ran for 89 episodes through to 1998 on the cable network HBO. It garnered 56 Emmy Award nominations and three wins. Shandling based the show on his experiences guest hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Shandling wrote 38 episodes of the show, and directed three in the show's final season. Shandling was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards for the show; five for acting, seven for writing and six for being co-executive producer with Brad Grey. He won one Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the series finale "Flip". He has also been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) in 1994 and 1995. He won two American Comedy Awards for Funniest Male Performance in a Comedy Series, eight Cable ACE Awards and a BAFTA Award. The show also influenced other shows such as Entourage, 30 Rock, and Curb Your Enthusiasm in which guest stars play themselves in episodes of the series.
In 2002, TV Guide named The Larry Sanders Show as 38th Greatest Show of All Time. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked the show the 28th Best Show of the past 25 years. It was also included on Time magazine's 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.
The first season was re-released in 2007 along with a Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show which are Shandling's pick of the best 23 episodes.
In January 2015, Shandling returned with fellow cast members from The Larry Sanders Show for Entertainment Weekly’s Reunions issue. He was reunited with co-stars Rip Torn, Jeffrey Tambor, Sarah Silverman, Penny Johnson Jerald, Wallace Langham, and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
In 2006, comedian Ricky Gervais interviewed Shandling for a British documentary, citing him as a comic influence.The reviews of British TV critics were mixed – one Guardian reviewer described it as "the uneasiest interview ever", another as Gervais' most interesting but the general consensus was that it felt "awkward", a hallmark of both the artists' comedic styles. Shandling hosted the Grammy Awards in 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994. He hosted the Emmy Awards in 2000 and 2004, and co-hosted (giving the opening monologue) in 2003. He appeared occasionally in movies, beginning with a cameo as dental patient Mr. Vertisey in The Night We Never Met. He played supporting roles in the 1994 films Love Affair and Mixed Nuts, Dr. Dolittle (1998) as the voice of a live-action pigeon, the David Rabe play adaptation Hurlyburly (1998), and Trust the Man. Shandling wrote and starred in director Mike Nichols' What Planet Are You From? (2000), and co-starred with Warren Beatty and others in Town & Country. He also appeared in a brief cameo in the comedy film Zoolander (2001). Again voicing an animal, Shandling co-starred as Verne the turtle in the computer animated comic strip adaptation Over the Hedge (2006). He appeared in Iron Man 2 (2010) as Senator Stern and reprised the role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). He appears uncredited as a health inspector in The Dictator (2012).
Shandling starred as himself representing Fox Mulder alongside Téa Leoni as Dana Scully in The X-Files season 7 spoof episode "Hollywood A.D."
Shandling, along with co-author David Rensin, wrote the book Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host: The Autobiography of Larry Sanders written in the voice of his alter ego, Larry Sanders.
Good Night Mr. Shandling