At Garry Shandling’s Memorial, Some Startling Family History

The comedian's generosity and success is all the more amazing given what he endured as a kid.

There were numerous celebrities and Hollywood power brokers in attendance at the memorial for Garry Shandling organized by Judd Apatow and generously paid for by HBO. But it was a pair of folks on the fringes of Tinseltown who left the most lasting mark Sunday night at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.

Cousin Mike Shandling shared some crazy family history. Per a report by Chris Gardner for our sister publication The Hollywood Reporter:

As a kid, Shandling adored his big brother, Barry, who was three years older and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a toddler. Barry died at the age of 13 when Shandling was just 10, and “it was devastating for the family,” Michael explained. In the 50 years that have passed, “we never ever spoke about Barry again,” he added.

And it was revealed during the service that Shandling’s mother, Muriel, never told her son that his brother died, instead she lied to him and said that Barry went to live with their grandmother. Michael noted that the mother-son dynamic proved to be a very “difficult and odd relationship for Garry to maintain.”

As a result of mom’s trickery, Garry never got to attend Barry’s funeral. Separately, author, security expert and very close Shandling pal Gavin de Becker was blunt with his remarks about Muriel, calling her “awful, wounded and flawed.” It took very little time for her qualities to be apparent to him, when they initially met:

“After the first day with her, Garry asked me what I thought of his mother. I said, ‘Garry, she’s a monster.’ He said, ‘Well, you are seeing her on her best behavior’,” he remembered.

De Becker went on to tie the dispute between Shandling and manager Brad Grey to that tumultuous family history, deeming the pair’s permanent falling out and legal battling a “deep brother wound.” In The New York Times’ coverage of the memorial, contributor Mark Caro lead off his with a related zinger:

Kevin Nealon appeared to be fighting back genuine tears as he delivered one of the biggest laugh lines at a memorial service Sunday night for the comedian Garry Shandling.

“The sad irony of all this,” Mr. Nealon said, “is that Garry is reunited with his mother for all eternity.”

Previously on FishbowlNY:
A Fantastic Way to Remember Garry Shandling

Image of Shandling with Dennis Miller via: Instagram