Richard Lewis was born on June 29, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Englewood, New Jersey and later graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in marketing and communication. After college, he worked in an advertising agency writing copy. During this time, he also wrote jokes for standup comics and eventually started to perform standup himself.
Following an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1974, he took his comedy show on the road. In 1977, Lewis made his acting debut in the comedic short Diary of a Young Comic, which he also wrote. The short first aired during the Saturday Night Live time slot. With the success of these projects, he appeared on numerous late-night talk shows and filmed three television specials from his performances in his touring comedy show.
After years spent on the road, he landed a part in the series Anything but Love in 1989. Over his career, he has found success in television and movies. Lewis's acting credits include Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Leaving Las Vegas, The Maze, Hiller and Diller, Rude Awakening, Game Day, 7th Heaven, Two and a Half Men and V.I.P. His work on Curb Your Enthusiasm earned him several award nominations, including one from the Screen Actors Guild.
Lewis published his autobiography The Other Great Depression, which describes his recovery from addiction, in 2001. His writings have also been featured in Playboy and other national publications.
Lewis is married to Joyce Lapinsky.
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Lewis plays a fictionalized version of himself. He is a recovering alcoholic who has numerous but short affairs with beautiful women. He and Larry are close friends but have a tumultuous and complicated relationship.