Actor Garry Shandling is dead at 66

Conan O'Brien said that everyone will be talking about what a brilliant comedian Shandling was, so he wanted to talk about Shandling the man, and what an empathetic, caring person he was.

Garry Shandling, who as an actor and comedian masterminded a brand of self-inflicted phony docudrama with "The Larry Sanders Show", has died of an apparent heart attack.

The comic won numerous prizes - including two British Comedy Awards and a Bafta award - over his 40 year career, which entered a prolonged period of success when he launched Its Garry Shandling's Show in 1986.

A source close to Shandling insists he appeared to be in the best of health hours before his death.

"I can imagine how Hank would handle it but I just don't know how to sum up someone I loved so much who taught me everything I know and was always so kind to me".

Retired late-night television host David Letterman, whose NBC show was offered to Shandling, and declined, when Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, said in the statement: "Stunned and sad about Garry". Garry Shandling, rest in peace.

Hawn and Shandling starred as husband and wife in 2001's Town and Country, which also featured Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton. He eventually caught the attention of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and made his first appearance on the program in 1981.

Originally from Chicago, Shandling started out in advertising before moving to comedy writing and standup.

Fellow comedians Amy Schumer and Ricky Gervais were among the many rushing to pay tribute to Shandling. "I'm gonna miss him".

Giants of show business paid tribute to his genius - as both a fake TV talk-show host/comic and a real one - and to the comic perfectionism of his genre-expanding sitcoms.

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