LOS ANGELES (AP) - The gangly, toothy-grinned "Tonight Show" favorite whose brand of observational comedy became a staple for other standups, including Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser, has died. David Brenner was 78.
Friend and publicist Jeff Abraham says Brenner, who had been fighting cancer, died peacefully at his home in New York City today with his family at his side.
Comedian Richard Lewis said in a statement that "David Brenner was a huge star when I met him and he took me under his wing. To me, historically, he was the godfather of hip, observational comedy." Lewis goes on the say "He mentored me from day one. ... His passing leaves a hole in my life that can never be replaced."
The lanky, always sharply dressed Brenner became one of the most frequent visitors to Johnny Carson's "Tonight" in the 1970s and '80s.
His 150-plus appearances as guest and substitute host turned the former documentary filmmaker into a hot comedian, one who was ubiquitous on other talk shows and game shows.
He also briefly hosted his own syndicated talk show in 1987 and starred in four HBO specials.