12 March 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Comedian Richard Jeni, who appeared frequently on the Tonight show and headlined a number of HBO comedy specials, died Saturday in Los Angeles in what appeared to be a suicide; he was 49. Jeni died of a gunshot wound to the head, an hour after police responded to a 911 call from the comedian's girlfriend and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. A final confirmation of suicide was still pending Monday morning, after further investigation of the incident and an autopsy. Born Richard John Colangelo in Brooklyn, Jeni found national fame in 1990 with his first Showtime cable TV special, The Boy From New York City, which won three Cable ACE awards. He followed up two years later with Crazy From the Heat, which became Showtime's highest-rated comedy stand-up show at the time. In 1992, Jeni moved from Showtime to HBO, starring in Platypus Man, a special which won another Cable ACE award and nabbed him a sitcom deal with the fledgling UPN network. In the early 90s Jeni also began making numerous appearances on the Tonight show, first with Johnny Carson and then with Jay Leno hosting, and toured nationally with his stand-up act. In addition to his stand-up comedy work, Jeni appeared in a number of films, including The Mask alongside Jim Carrey and the recent documentary The Aristocrats. A friend of comedian Chris Rock, Jeni also appeared on Rock's UPN sitcom Everyone Hates Chris and wrote material for Rock's hosting job for the 2005 Academy Awards; his most recent TV special was A Big Steaming Pile of Me, which aired in 2005 on HBO. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff

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