He recently appeared in Marvel's Captain America: Civil War as well as in Iron Man 2 as well as cameoing in a slew of comedies including The Dictator, Funny People and Zoolander.
Born in Chicago, Shandling's family relocated to Tucson, Ariz., to help treat his older brother, Barry, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. Barry died at age 10 but the family remained.
Shandling moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s to give comedy writing a shot. He first earned a living writing ad copy, but his dry, cerebral wit quickly earned him staff-writer gigs on sitcoms and like Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter.
In 1977, when he was 27, Shandling was in a serious car accident in Beverly Hills that nearly killed him.
"I had a vivid near-death experience that involved a voice asking, 'Do you want to continue leading Garry Shandling's life?'" he later wrote. "Without thinking, I said, 'Yes.' Since then, I've been stuck living in the physical world while knowing, without a doubt, that there's something much more meaningful within it all. That realization is what drives my life and work."
From that moment on, Shandling decided to concentrate on stand-up comedy, finding the constraints of traditional sitcom writing limiting. He started performing at the Comedy Store in L.A. a year later, capitalizing on his real-life neuroses.
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.