Garry Shandling, 66

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The comedian and actor made unforgettable spoofs of sitcoms and late night TV, but to younger comics, he was more than an icon -- he was a mentor.

"All the things he learned the hard way, he offered to me wrapped up in a bow."

- Sarah Silverman

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Garry Shandling was a writer on sitcoms like “Sanford & Son” and “Welcome Back, Kotter,” before doing stand-up “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” including this episode in 1991. Shandling became a frequent guest and was on the shortlist to replace Carson when he retired in 1992, but Jay Leno got the gig.

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“It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” which ran from 1986 to 1990, was noted for breaking down the fourth wall: the neurotic comedian Shandling played often talked directly to the audience. Here, Shandling in 1990.

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“The Larry Sanders Show” was one of Shandling’s next projects, a spoof of late-night talk shows. He and Peter Tolan won Emmys for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 1998. Judd Apatow also worked on the series, and considered Shandling a mentor.

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In January, Shandling appeared with Jerry Seinfeld in “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” The episode was dubbed “It’s Great Garry Shandling Is Still Alive.” Shandling died of a heart attack in March.

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