TMZ and Yahoo News are reporting that Eric “The Actor” Lynch, a Howard Stern Show regular, is dead at 39.
Sad, sad news for Howard Stern fans. Sad news for anyone who likes great comedy and great radio. TMZ says:
Eric's longtime manager Johnny Fratto tells us Lynch was rushed to a hospital in Sacramento Saturday after he started having heart problems … and we're told most of his organs just gave out.
An official from the hospital confirms Eric passed away Saturday afternoon … and Fratto says Lynch was surrounded by family and friends when he died. We're told his caretaker Jon was also present.
Eric appeared on the Stern show just last week … and said his parents would be taking over caretaking duties because Jon was moving away.
Johnny Fratto, Eric's manager, tweeted this earlier today, “I am so sorry and so sad to inform everyone that my friend Eric “The Actor” Lynch passed away yesterday afternoon!!!”
Here's what was so remarkable about Eric: he had no discernable sense of humor. He was the comic foil for a show full of funny people. He knew he was being goofed on– he didn't care. Nothing was funny to him. In the Marx Brother-ian world that Howard created, he was a 3-foot tall, wheelchair-bound, severely disabled Margaret Dumont. She was the actress who played the tall, haughty dowager whom Groucho was always mocking.
But Dumont was a professional actress– she really knew Groucho was funny. Eric was himself– a tiny man so battered and embittered by his lot in life that he could never, not for a second, let his guard down. He was ornery, ungrateful, nasty, demanding and unfunny– and that made his appearances on the show hysterical. Whenever Howard used his show connections to land Eric a coveted role on a TV show, Eric– who dreamed of being an actor– made life so difficult for the people doing him a favor. It was comic gold. I once stayed in my car for a half hour hust to hear the list of demands Eric communicated to the producers of “In Plain Sight,” who hired him for a small part:
Lynch's agent Johnny Fratto (another HSS personality) recently drafted a letter to IPS producers featuring an extensive list of questions along with nine very specific rider requirements.
“How much will he be paid?” reads the letter. “If it’s only SAG scale he says he won’t do it.(SAG scale for a day player is around $850.) Will there be a masseuse on the set? Is there an Arby’s or McDonald’s close to the set? If not, will there be a runner to drive as far as is needed to go there? Is it possible that this could become a recurring role? Is so, could they move the production to San Francisco as it would be easier to get to and from the set. He also wants me to let you know that it would be less expensive for you. “
That's what made Eric so compelling was that we all have a little of him in us (insert midget joke here)– an angry ball of thwarted Id that just wants what it wants, and feels 100 percent entitled to it.
He first called in to the show in 2002. Long before reality TV proved that the misfits and whackabirds who live among us are at least as entertaining as scripted professionals, Howard was populating his show with characters like Eric. I would love to know when Howard knew Eric was someone who would be so good for the show? Instantly? Eric was the only person on the show or in the audience that could regularly insult Howard– Howard somehow reveled in Eric's rudeness. Eric got to rant at the world through Howard, and Howard got to make comic fodder out of Eric– it was a beautiful relationship. In the end, it is hard to say who got the better deal.
Out of the whole wack pack, Eric the Actor stood apart. He lived a midget, and died a giant.