Fred Willard, the comic actor who appeared in films including This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind, died yesterday (May 15) at the age of 86.
The star’s death has been confirmed by his representative Glenn Schwartz, who said Willard had died of natural causes.
In a statement, Willard’s daughter Hope Mulbarger said: “My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old. He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”
The actor starred in more than 300 movies and TV shows in his career, which spanned more than 50 years. He was best known for his work under director Christopher Guest, including Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. He also appeared in the likes of iconic films such as This Is Spinal Tap, Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies, Anchorman, and more.
Willard also had roles in numerous sitcoms, including Friends, New Girl, and Modern Family. He played Frank Dunphy in the latter, in what was one of his last roles. He is set to appear in Netflix’s upcoming comedy series Space Force alongside Steve Carell, which premieres on May 29.
Tributes have begun to be paid to the actor online. Jamie Lee Curtis wrote on Twitter: “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.”
His Space Force co-star Carrell said: “Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.”
Kathy Griffin added: “RIP to the legendary #FredWillard. The first time I worked with him ironically it was a table reading for a Drama/comedy play. I was still in The Groundlings in those days. He looked right in my eyes when we had dialogue. Basic but vital acting tip. Oh and funny as f**k.”
See those and more tributes below.
How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard. Best in Show (7/11) Movie CLIP – Judging the Hounds (2000) HD https://t.co/wPrbk9VjWI via @YouTube
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) May 16, 2020
RIP to the legendary #FredWillard. The first time I worked with him ironically it was a table reading for a Drama/comedy play. I was still in The Groundlings in those days. He looked right in my eyes when we had dialogue. Basic but vital acting tip. Oh and funny as f**k💔
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 16, 2020
Gutted. His immense talent and kindness will never be forgotten. We love you Fred Willard. Thank you for the decades of laughter.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) May 16, 2020
Among many things, Fred Willard taught me not to be afraid to turn up to a scene with your own joke props. Or indeed material. What an incredibly funny man. Rest well Fred. pic.twitter.com/w2tEX066l1
— chris o'dowd (@BigBoyler) May 16, 2020
There was no man sweeter or funnier. We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits https://t.co/joHM39o8k4
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet. https://t.co/JoLy6PVd9d
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 16, 2020
Just learned of Fred Willard's passing. Just about the funniest human ever to walk the planet. An amazing talent, in telekinetic contact with the very wellspring of comedy.
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 16, 2020
RIP Fred Willard ..you were incomparable
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) May 16, 2020
Rest In Peace sweet @Fred_Willard. You will always be a true original and I am so honored that our lives intersected. No one will ever come close to replacing your genius.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) May 16, 2020