Harris Wittels Dead: Parks And Recreation Executive Producer Dies Of Possible Overdose Days Before Finale
Harris Wittels, co-executive producer of “Parks and Recreation,” died on Thursday of a possible drug overdose. He was 30. His death comes just less than one week before the “Parks and Recreation” series finale.
Police were called to Wittels’ Los Angeles home midday Thursday after his assistant found him on the couch and called 911, citing a suspected overdose. He was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. local time. Cops reportedly found drug paraphernalia in the residence, and no signs of trauma on his body. Wittels, who was also known for producing and writing shows like “Eastbound and Down” and “The Sarah Silverman Program,” had spoken openly over the years about his issues with drug addiction, and was in rehab twice. That said, Wittels performed at the Los Angeles comedy theater The Meltdown on Wednesday, where he reportedly said he was sober and doing well.
In addition to being a standup comedian and a television writer-producer, Wittels was also in the band Don’t Stop or We’ll Die. He was initially hired on “Parks and Recreation” as a staff writer, before becoming a story editor, and then producer. He also appeared on the show in eight episodes as an animal control employee named Harris, most recently seen in an airing earlier this month. The “Parks and Recreation” series finale airs Tuesday.
Wittels was also a frequent guest on “Comedy Bang Bang,” and the author of the book Humblebrag. Sarah Silverman, who was credited with giving Wittels his big break, tweeted Thursday night, “He was my baby. I just keep thinking of superman flying backwards around the earth. I wish I could do that. I’m so mad at you Harris.” She went on, “You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything.”
She went on, “That his heart was big and he FELT hard. That he was someone who would reach out to tell you he was thinking of you for no particular reason. That he was honest even if it was gonna piss u off or make him look sh*tty. He told the truth. Even when it was ugly. Even when he lied.”
Other celebrities took to Twitter to mourn and pay tribute as well. Seth Meyers tweeted, “Such heartbreaking news about Harris Wittels. A really funny guy.” Will Arnett, ex-husband of “Parks and Recs” star Amy Poehler, wrote, “God Damnit. #RIPHarrisWittels.” Comedy Central tweeted, “RIP and thank you, Harris Wittels.” Carson Daly wrote, “SO SAD. Praying for his family.” Poehler’s “Smart Girls” account tweeted, “Harris Wittels — funny, talented, and gone too soon. He will be dearly missed. xo.” “Rest in peace, @twittels. The comedy community mourns,” posted Ken Jeong.
“Don’t know what to say. Harris Wittels was a fantastic writer I had the pleasure to work with at Parks and Rec. So so sad. RIP Harris,” tweeted Billy Eichner. Kevin Nealon commented, “So sad to hear of the passing of Harris Wittels. Such a talent. Such a loss.” Funny or Die wrote, “Harris Wittels was an incredibly funny person who has left us way too soon. He will be missed.” And Ben Stiller said simply, “Respect to Harris Wittels.”
Wittels’ death was first reported by TMZ. Gossip Cop has reached out to NBC for a statement. We will have updates.