Actor Willie Garson, who played the beloved pal to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City," has died. He was 57.
A spokesperson for HBO / HBO Max confirmed the news to USA TODAY.
"Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe," the statement reads. "He created one of the most beloved characters from the HBO pantheon and was a member of our family for nearly 25 years. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones."
Garson's gay talent agent character Stanford Blatch was a fan favorite throughout "Sex and the City's" six-season run on HBO from 1998 to 2004. Perpetually single but always fashion forward, with colorful suit-and-tie ensembles that rivaled Carrie's whimsical looks, Stanford was known for his quippy one-liners. ("How can you not have a shrink? This is Manhattan. Even the shrinks have shrinks. I have three.")
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Stanford's candid walk-and-talks with Carrie were highlights of his recurring appearances on "Sex and the City," and his opulent wedding to former rival Anthony Marantino (Mario Cantone) – complete with a Liza Minnelli performance of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" – was one of the outrageous saving graces of the "Sex and the City 2" movie in 2010.
Reading the new scripts for the first time, "my reaction was that they were real and funny and it sounded like us," Garson said. "The new characters are terrific and they just felt very (much) like home in not a forced way. It had a nice, light touch like, '2021, this is who we are.' "
"The 'Sex and the City' family has lost one of its own, our amazing Willie Garson," the show's creator, Michael Patrick King, said in a statement to USA TODAY. "His spirit and his dedication to his craft was present everyday filming 'And Just Like That.' He was there – giving us his all – even while he was sick. His multitude of gifts as an actor and person will be missed by everyone."
Garson racked up well over 150 acting credits in his more than three-decade career, with roles in long-running shows including USA's “White Collar” and CBS' “Hawaii Five-O” reboot.
Garson opened up to Page Six in an interview last year about playing a gay character on "Sex and the City," despite identifying as straight.
"For years I didn’t talk about it because I found it to be offensive to gay people," Garson said. "When the question would come up (in interviews) I would say, 'When I was on 'White Collar' no one ever asked me if I was a conman, and when I was on 'NYPD Blue,' nobody ever asked me if I was a murderer. This is what we do for a living, portray people."
He last took to social media earlier this month, tweeting, "BE KIND TO EACH OTHER......ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APRROACH KINDNESS."
Garson adopted a son, Nathen, in 2009 when he was 7 years old. Nathen honored his dad in an Instagram post Tuesday night, calling him the "toughest and funniest and smartest person I've known."
"Rest In Peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much," Nathen wrote. "I’m so proud of you. I will always love you, but I think it’s time for you to go on an adventure of your own. You’ll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I’m glad you can be at peace now."
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Tributes also flooded in on Twitter from across the TV world.
"We all loved him and adored working with him," said Cynthia Nixon, who plays lawyer Miranda Hobbes in "Sex and the City" and its revival. "He was endlessly funny on-screen and in real life. He was a source of light, friendship and show business lore. He was a consummate professional— always."
"I couldn’t have had a more brilliant TV partner," Cantone wrote, sharing a snap of the two. "I’m devastated and just overwhelmed with Sadness. Taken away from all of us way soon. You were a gift from the gods. Rest my sweet friend. I love you."
"This breaks my heart," said his friend, "Modern Family" star Julie Bowen, on Instagram. "Willie Garson, a friend who loved me at my worst, (and always let me know it) is gone."
"A dear, funny, kind man and delightful actor," said "Seinfeld" alum Jason Alexander. "Too soon."
Contributing: Charlie Trepany