Richard Belzer made a deliberate departure from the bustling world of “Law & Order” and the glitz of Hollywood, opting for a serene life in the French countryside with his wife, Harlee McBride, and their four beloved dogs. In a picturesque abode surrounded by natural beauty, Belzer credited his prolonged life to the companionship of his canine friends.

Before his passing at 78 in February 2023, Belzer left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry as a comedian and actor, particularly known for his roles in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

In the twilight of his life, Belzer faced various health challenges. According to close friend Bill Scheft, his final moments were filled with humorous banter and playful jests. Belzer passed away in his residence in Bozouls, France.

The mayor of their village, Jean-Luc Calmelly, paid tribute to Belzer, acknowledging not just his celebrity status but also his amiable nature towards others.

Years before his demise, Belzer bid farewell to his iconic character, Detective John Munch, on “SVU.” The show’s executive producer, Warren Leight, expressed the difficulty of parting ways with Belzer’s character, citing NYPD’s mandatory retirement before the 63rd birthday, a rule they tried to simulate in the show.

Barry Levinson, the executive producer of “Homicide: Life on the Street,” admired Belzer’s portrayal of the character, particularly appreciating the rhythm of his speech.

Born on August 4, 1944, in Connecticut, Belzer spent his final years in the French countryside with his wife, Harlee McBride.

Munch debuted on “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1993, and after the show’s cancellation, Belzer and his wife celebrated the end with champagne, having portrayed the character for seven years. Little did they know that Munch’s legacy would endure for many more years.

The iconic character crossed over into the original “Law & Order” series and appeared in various other shows, including “Trial by Jury,” “Arrested Development,” “The X-Files,” “The Beat,” “The Wire,” “30 Rock,” and even “Sesame Street.”

Belzer grew attached to his on-screen alter ego, expressing pleasure in having a character close to himself. His final appearance as Munch on “Law & Order: SVU” was in 2016.

Following his passing, the official “Law & Order” Twitter page honored Belzer with a heartfelt post, mourning his loss while celebrating his enduring legacy.

Born on August 4, 1944, in Connecticut, Richard Belzer spent his final years in the serene countryside of France with his wife, Harlee McBride.

Their decision to move to France traced back to a 1985 incident when wrestler Hulk Hogan inadvertently choked Belzer during a talk show stunt, leading to stitches and a legal settlement that facilitated their relocation.

McBride, an actress and producer born on November 20, 1948, shares a rich on-screen history with her husband, appearing alongside him in “Homicide: Life on the Street” as Dr. Alyssa Dyer.

Married in 1985, Belzer’s marriage to McBride marked his third, and similarly, McBride had been previously married to actor Garth Benton. Though they didn’t have biological children together, Belzer embraced the role of a father figure to McBride’s children, Jessica Erin Benton and Shannon Bree Benton.

The move to France after the Hulk Hogan incident became pivotal, providing them a haven in a small village in Bozouls, solidified by a residence permit in 2021. Despite language barriers, Belzer made efforts to connect with their neighbors, seamlessly integrating into the local community.

In their rustic French home, surrounded by lush landscapes, Belzer and McBride found solace in the company of their four beloved dogs. Their social media posts often featured their furry companions, illustrating their bond.

Their countryside retreat, nestled in Roquefort cheese country, offered tranquility near the historic Sainte Fauste Church, embodying their idyllic life in rural France.

Belzer’s home, showcased in various snippets, evoked admiration for its tranquil allure, often featuring the charming church in the background. Their activities included lounging in a plunge pool with a glass of wine, surrounded by their canine companions, creating what Belzer fondly termed a “pool party.”

Their four dogs, Bebe, Tulip, Django, and Lacey, were treated as cherished family members. Bebe, in particular, accompanied Belzer to red-carpet events and the set of “Law & Order: SVU,” contributing to the warmth and vibrancy of their household.

Belzer, an advocate for animal welfare, supported nonprofit organizations like the North Shore Animal League. His philanthropy extended to issues of gun control and violence, reflecting his commitment to positive change in society.

Despite challenges in his upbringing, Belzer showcased resilience and creativity, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. From his early comedy days to his iconic portrayal of Detective Munch, he left a legacy that transcends time, testifying to his dedication to his craft and his influence on those he encountered.