Comedian, actor, writer and producer Garry Shandling has died, TMZ has reported.

The 66-year-old actor was best known for his starring roles in TV series It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show. TMZ reports that he died at a Los Angeles hospital on Thursday, and a cause of death has not been released.

He was not publicly known to be ill, and just a few days ago was photographed alongside fellow comedians Kathy Griffin and Bob Odenkirk.

Shandling started his entertainment career behind the scenes, writing for 70s sitcoms including Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter. In 1978, he performed his first stand-up routine, and through the 1980s his comedy career went from strength to strength, bouyed by regular appearances on late-night talk shows.
In 1985 Shandling helmed the surreal comedy series It's Garry Shandling's Show, which ran fro 72 episodes through to 1990.


His biggest success was to come in 1992 with the debut of The Larry Sanders Show, a critical and commercial hit, running for eight seasons on HBO. The program was a behind-the-scenes look at life for a fictional TV talk show host, and went on to influence a generation of comedy series, including 30 Rock, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Shandling appeared less frequently on screens in recent years, but had a supporting role as Senator Stern in Marvel movies Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Hollywood's biggest comedy names have rushed to pay tribute to the star, with Ricky Gervais tweeting that he was "surely one of the most influential comedians of a generation":

Shandling was never married and divulged little about his personal life, but had a wide circle of famous friends. He was one of only a handful of people invited to attend Hollywood icon Farrah Fawcett's 2009 funeral.