Richard Belzer left “Law & Order” and Hollywood for a quiet life in the French countryside. He lived with his wife, Harlee McBride, and their four dogs in a beautiful home surrounded by nature. According to the actor, his dogs prolonged his life. - Entertainment Mind
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Richard Belzer left “Law & Order” and Hollywood for a quiet life in the French countryside. He lived with his wife, Harlee McBride, and their four dogs in a beautiful home surrounded by nature. According to the actor, his dogs prolonged his life.

Richard Belzer left “Law & Order” and Hollywood for a quiet life in the French countryside. He lived with his wife, Harlee McBride, and their four dogs in a beautiful home surrounded by nature. According to the actor, his dogs prolonged his life.

Before Richard Belzer passed away at age 78 in February 2023, he found success in the entertainment industry as a comedian and actor, most recognized for his roles in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Belzer already battled several issues leading up to his demise. According to his good friend, Bill Scheft, his last words included a lot of joking curses. Belzer passed away in his Bozouls, France, residence.

Jean-Luc Calmelly, the mayor of their small village, paid tribute to the actor, calling him famous amongst residents of the area, not only for his celebrity status but also for his friendliness and kindness towards others.

Years before his passing, Belzer bid farewell to his famous character, Detective John Munch” on “SVU.” Warren Leight, the show’s executive producer, admitted to finding difficulty in Belzer’s departure. He said:

“In the real world, which we try very hard to simulate, NYPD has mandatory retirement before your 63rd birthday, and we were trying to figure out how to deal with it. [NYPD does it] because you can’t have 65-year-old guys running after guys.”

Although Belzer’s character had to leave the police department, he joined the D.A.’s office as an investigator. The actor’s 21 years as Munch still had an open ending in a different field.

Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch on "Law & Order" Season 10. | Source: Getty Images

Similarly, “Homicide: Life in the Street” executive producer Barry Levinson also liked how Belzer portrayed the character. Notably, he was fond of the rhythm of the way Belzer spoke.

Belzer, born on August 4, 1944, in Connecticut, spent the last few years living in the beautiful countryside in France with his wife, Harlee McBride.
Munch first debuted on “Homicide: Life in the Street” in 1993. When the show was canceled, Belzer and his wife celebrated with champagne as he played the role for seven years. Little did they know that his character would live on for many more.

The famous character appeared in the original “Law & Order.” Belzer reprised his role on “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” “Arrested Development,” “The X-Files,” “The Beat,” “The Wire,” “30 Rock,” and “Sesame Street.”

Fortunately, Belzer grew fond of his on-screen persona. “He is very close to how I used to be. It is very pleasing and luxurious to have a character just like you,” Bezler said. His last appearance on “Law & Order: SVU” was in 2016.

At the time of his passing, the official “Law & Order” Twitter page paid tribute to Richard Belzer with a post that mourned his loss and celebrated his memory. The post read:

“Anyone who had the pleasure of watching Richard Belzer portray Det. John Munch will never forget how much he inhabited that beloved character to make it his own.”

Richard Belzer and Harlee McBride during the 13th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at New York Marriott Marquis in New York City, New York. | Source: Getty Images

Belzer, born on August 4, 1944, in Connecticut, spent the last few years living in the beautiful countryside in France with his wife, Harlee McBride.

He and his wife relocated to France after wrestler Hulk Hogan choked Beltzer during a talk show in 1985. While the scene was only for a stunt, Beltzer passed out and ended up in stitches.
McBride is also an actress and producer, born November 20, 1948. Like her husband, she also has several on-screen credits. In the ’90s, McBride shared the screen with her husband as she appeared as Dr. Alyssa Dyer in 22 episodes of “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Her other on-screen appearances include “Young Lady Chatterley,” “Young Lady Chatterley II,” “Raid on Entebbe,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Most Wanted,” and “The Rockford Files.”

Beltzer tied the knot with McBride in 1985, although he had been married twice. From 1996 to 1972, Beltzer was wed to Gail Susan Ross. Following their divorce, he married Dalia Gnoch in 1976 and separated in 1978. Similarly, McBride was once married to actor Garth Benton.

Although Beltzer never had biological children, he became a father figure to McBride’s kids, Jessica Erin Benton and Shannon Bree Benton.

He and his wife relocated to France after wrestler Hulk Hogan choked Beltzer during a talk show in 1985. While the scene was only for a stunt, Beltzer passed out and ended up in stitches.

 

“He came very close to killing me. I was told by a sports medicine expert that if I had fallen a few inches either way, I could have been crippled for life; I could have been dead,” Belzer said. He eventually sued the WWF star and received a sum of money that went to their home in France.

Belzer and McBride’s estate was located in a small village in Bozouls with an estimated 3,000 residents as of 2013. They received a residence permit in 2021 and officially called the house their permanent home.

Despite the language barrier, Belzer tried his best to show camaraderie amongst his neighbors and would often talk to the locals. According to those who knew them, he and his wife were well-integrated into the community.

He and McBride enjoy quality time together with their four adorable dogs, which are like their children. His posts show that the couple’s fur babies are often included in their activities.

 

The couple’s gorgeous country house sits on a parcel of land in the heart of Roquefort cheese country and is surrounded by beautiful greenery. It was located near the village’s 12th-century Sainte Fauste Church.

Belzer has shared snippets of his home several times, leaving fans in awe of its serene beauty. The beautiful church was also sometimes seen in the background of his home photos.

Several trees, vines, and colorful flowers are outside Belzer’s home, including roses. His wife is particularly fond of the nature that surrounds them, as she enjoys caring for her plants. In one of his tweets, Belzer revealed that McBride gardens even during winter. His post came with a photo of his wife in action.

The couple also keeps a large pile of wood chunks for the cold days and nights. The actor previously shared a picture of their neatly stored stock, writing, “Harlee’s wood pile… I helped (A little)!”

Besides the home itself, it is the company that keeps Belzer happy. He and McBride enjoy quality time together with their four adorable dogs, which are like their children. His posts show that the couple’s fur babies are often included in their activities.

One of their ways to relax is by lounging in their plunge pool while enjoying a cold glass of wine. Around them were the cute dogs enjoying what Belzer called a “pool party.”

One of his fur babies was a poodle-fox terrier mix named Bebe, who frequented red-carpet events with the actor. In 2007, he joined his fur dad at the screening of “Look.”
When it comes to kitchen work, McBride takes charge of the cooking. “The master at work,” Belzer captioned one of his photos of his wife in the kitchen.

 

The pair also host dinners in their home, as seen in a beautiful dinner table setup with several plates for guests. Regardless of the activity, Belzer and McBride enjoy each moment spent together

Dogs Prolonged His Life
Although Belzer never had children of his own, he had four dogs whom he adored like kids. One of his fur babies was a poodle-fox terrier mix named Bebe, who frequented red-carpet events with the actor. In 2007, he joined his fur dad at the screening of “Look.”

However, the manager informed the actor during the event that Bebe was not allowed in the venue. Although Bebe was harmless and a constant companion, he was still not allowed and had to sit in the car with Belzer’s driver.

Bebe was also known amongst “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” cast and crew members as she often joined taping.

“He has total freedom on the set,” Belzer said. “We’ll all be working hard, and then he’ll walk by, and everyone will be like, ‘Aw, Bebe!’ All these big tough guys get mushy around him. He can change the moods of 120 people on set.”

Belzer also credits Bebe for his long life. While he admitted that he had a temper, his emotions were in control because his pooch sensed it and calmed him down. Because of Bebe, he doesn’t blow up as much as he used to.

Belzer seemed to have a good relationship with his stepdaughters, Jessica and Bree. The girls were in France to bid farewell to the actor during his final days.
Bebe was an abused and abandoned pup when Belzer took him in. Their similar backgrounds became a way for them to connect, but beyond their familiar story, Bebe’s personality and intelligence won Belzer’s heart.

Besides Bebe, Belzer and McBride’s three other dog children are Tulip, Django, and Lacey, all much bigger than Bebe.

Belzer advocated for animal welfare and supported several non-profit organizations, including the North Shore Animal League. He encouraged others to endorse the no-kill rescue foundation and adopt dogs. Belzer also supported organizations concerned about gun control and violence.

Aside from his pups, Belzer seemed to have a good relationship with his stepdaughters, Jessica and Bree. The girls were in France to bid farewell to the actor during his final days.

Growing up, Belzer did not have an average family. His interest in comedy resulted from an abusive childhood with a mother who physically harmed him and his brother. According to Belzer, his mother always had a reason to lay a hand on them but would be in a better mood if he made her laugh.

 

While his jokes were funny to many, they often got him in trouble at school. He ended his college story at Massachusetts’ Dean Junior College with an expulsion after he organized protests within the school’s vicinity.

Belzer was an author and published several books, such as “How to Be a Stand-Up Comic,” “UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe,” and “I Am Nat a Cop!: A Novel.”
Following his education, Belzer worked several jobs and eventually became a journalist for The Bridgeport Post newspaper. It was only after a series of tragedies that he took a risk with a comedy career.

Three years after his mom succumbed to cancer, his father, Charles, tried to take his own life. While Belzer was able to save him, Charles succeeded a year later. Sadly, Belzer’s brother also saw the same fate in 2014 after his wife passed away.

Belzer’s first opportunity in the field was at a Channel One East Village comedy troupe. Eventually, Belzer landed roles in a parody of police dramas. Soon, he performed stand-up comedy at New York clubs, including the Improv, Pips, and Catch a Rising Star.

He also shared the stage with John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner on the “National Lampoon Radio Hour.” When “Saturday Night Live” went on-air, he was invited to be the warm-up comedian.

“They asked me to do some sketches and do the warm-ups. I just kind of did what I did in nightclubs,” he said. I tried to improvise and ad-lib as much as I could. And it was fascinating doing that in a television studio and not in a nightclub.”

Belzer appeared in other shows after “Saturday Night Live,” but his role as Munch changed his career forever. Because of Munch, he became a fixture on television and known worldwide. The role also opened several opportunities for the actor.

Besides acting, Belzer was an author and published several books, such as “How to Be a Stand-Up Comic,” “UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe,” and “I Am Nat a Cop!: A Novel.” He left a legacy in this world that many will undoubtedly remember.