NEW YORK -- Alan Colmes, the radio and television host and commentator best known as the amiable liberal foil to the hard-right Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel, has died. He was 66.
Fox spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffer confirmed his death Thursday. Fox also aired a tribute to Colmes, narrated by Hannity, and a statement from his family saying that he died Thursday morning after “a brief illness.”
Colmes is survived by his wife, Jocelyn Elise Crowley, the sister of longtime Fox contributor Monica Crowley.
“He was a great guy, brilliant, hysterical, and moral,” the family statement said. “He was fiercely loyal, and the only thing he loved more than his work was his life with Jocelyn. He will be missed.”
In a statement issued through Fox, Hannity called Colmes “one of life’s most decent, kind and wonderful people.”
Colmes was a New York City native and Hofstra University graduate who worked for years in radio, notably on WABC and WNBC, and standup comedy before joining Fox in 1996.
That same year he and the conservative Hannity began a 12-year run as co-hosts of the popular “Hannity & Colmes” program, which brought Colmes both fame and ridicule.
Admittedly a minority voice on the conservative channel, Colmes was often mocked as too nice and easily overshadowed by the ever-aggressive Hannity. The liberal media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Media likened him to the hapless Washington Generals, the dependable losers to basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters.
Al Franken, in his best-selling “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” imagined Colmes earning his salary by “adding toner to the copiers and printers, loofah-ing Roger Ailes in his personal steam room, and ordering Chinese food for editors working on misleading video packages.”
Colmes was aware of the criticism, but said that getting mean was not his style.
“People say to me, ‘Why don’t you fight fire with fire?’” he told The Associated Press in 2003. “You fight fire with water, not fire.”
Colmes continued to appear as a commentator on Fox after his show with Hannity ended. He also was an author, his books including “Thank the Liberals” and “Red, White & Liberal.”
Former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, conservative commentator Ann Coulter and Fox personalities were among those who took to social media following news of Colmes’ death.