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Comedian Garry Shandling Dead At 66

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Garry Shandling at First Annual Comedy Awards in 2011 (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
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Actor and comedian Garry Shandling died today at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 66. A source told TMZ that a 9-1-1 call was placed from Shandling's home, and that the comedian was taken to the hospital where he later died of a heart attack. The source said that Shandling was alive when he got to the hospital, and was not known to be suffering from any sort of illness. Photos from the weekend indicate that Shandling had been hanging out with fellow comedian Kathy Griffin and Better Call Saul star Bob Oldenkirk.

Shandling was born in Chicago, but his family moved to Tucson, Variety reports. He attended University of Arizona, ultimately majoring in marketing, before moving to Los Angeles in 1973. He worked for a while at an advertising agency, before selling a script for the TV show Sanford and Son. He also wrote for Welcome Back, Kotter, then began performing stand-up comedy in the late 70s.

His first stand-up special came in 1984 for Showtime, then he launched his own show—It's Garry Shandling's Show—for the network in 1985. The show ended in 1990, and was followed by HBO's The Larry Sanders Show in 1992, which aired for six years. The show starred Shandling as Larry Sanders, a talk show host embroiled in showbiz. The show netted three Emmy Awards, and was called "one of the greatest achievements in television" by the New York Post. It is said to have inspired several future shows, including 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Though Shandling was offered various stints as a real-life late night talk show host, he declined, though he did host the Grammys and the Emmys.

As an actor, Shandling appeared most recently in Captain America: Winter Soldier and Iron Man 2 as Senator Stern. He also guest starred as himself in the 2000 X-Files episode "Hollywood A.D." In the episode, Shandling scored the role of Fox Mulder opposite Téa Leoni as Dana Scully in a Hollywood film about the pair.

In 1977, Shandling was in a bad car crash in Beverly Hills. In an essay for Esquire he wrote:

I had a car accident when I was twenty-seven in which I was nearly killed. I had a vivid near-death experience that involved a voice asking, "Do you want to continue leading Garry Shandling's life?" 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