Comedian Garry Shandling dies at 66

Shandling began his career doing stand-up, which led to writing jobs on shows including Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter. It's Garry Shandling's Show ended in 1990 and received 4 Emmy nominations.

In a time when laugh tracks were still ubiquitous, the multi-camera "Larry Sanders Show" went for realism instead of punchlines. He added that Shandling had no history of heart disease, "zero".

Doctors said that Shandling, 66, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, according to Alan Nierob, his spokesman. "There's nothing suspicious about the case, whatsoever", Elias said.

While acknowledging Garry Shandling's comedic talent on Thursday night, Conan O'Brien paid tribute his late friend and colleague by sharing a story about his generous nature off-camera.

"Garry Shandling was one of the most brilliant people I have ever known", Billy Crystal tweeted.

Garry in a still from Iron Man 2.

"I would not do a show where you just sit and talk to somebody", the humorist said in 1993 when he was courted by NBC to succeed David Letterman on "Late Night". Great stand up, great writer.

Others, including Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Schumer and countless more expressed their sorry on social media. In the acclaimed CBS series "The White Shadow", which aired from 1978-81, he starred as the white coach of an urban high school basketball team - one of Howard's best-known roles and one that drew on the personal history of the 6-foot-6 actor, who played basketball growing up on Long Island in NY and at Amherst College.

He didn't have the inclination; on the heels of deconstructing the sitcom with the fourth-wall-breaking Showtime series "It's Garry Shandling's Show", he opted not to embrace the talk-show format, but to mess with it by sticking with "The Larry Sanders Show".

If Shandling hadn't done that - if he hadn't created the character of Larry Sanders, the egotistical host of a late-night talk show and the centerpiece of a comedy series that ran for six seasons on HBO in the 1990s - the current landscape of late-night might look very different. This "show about a show", which featured exaggerated parodies of the actors and celebrities' own personalities, went on to influence many other comedies, for example Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, and 30 Rock.

HBO said in a statement that Shandling's show "ushered in the modern period of original programming" at the pay-cable network.

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