Friday actor John Witherspoon has died at the age of 77, his family has confirmed.
The actor, who is best known for starring as Willie Jones in Ice Cube’s comedy franchise, passed away at his California home.
His family confirmed in a statement: “It is with deepest sorrow that we can confirm our beloved husband and father, John Witherspoon, one of the hardest working men in show business, died today at his home in Sherman Oaks at the age of 77.
“He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. We are all in shock, please give us a minute for a moment in privacy and we will celebrate his life and his work together. John used to say, ‘I’m no big deal’, but he was a huge deal to us.”
A message on his Twitter page added: “It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever.”
I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him. pic.twitter.com/gtmiZiEppP
— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 30, 2019
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) October 30, 2019
God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow. pic.twitter.com/2wUBXglzSW
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) October 30, 2019
Ice Cube, who starred alongside Witherspoon as his son Craig in the Friday movies, wrote on Twitter: “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him.”
Chance The Rapper wrote: “God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow.”
Public Enemy’s Chuck D, meanwhile, described him as a “funny man”.
It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you “POPS” always & forever.
– The Witherspoon Family pic.twitter.com/ov9P34kaMn
— John Witherspoon (@John_POPS_Spoon) October 30, 2019
View this post on Instagram
I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already. Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart. Anyone that knows me knows how much i love pops. You have a strong wife and great kids. What an amazing family. Your boys damn near grew up on the #WayansBros set they’ll always be like my little brothers and sons. i will pass on all the jewels that you bestowed on to us. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set. You got “all the keys ? “ and i know you got one to heaven’s gate. Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry. I miss already…. hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on. “Pops pops sugar pops”. #ripjohnwitherspoon #mysecondpops
Witherspoon’s big break came back in the late 1970s, after he started a successful stand-up career. He went on to secure appearances on The Richard Pryor Show, as well as significant roles in The Incredible Hulk, Good Times and Hill Street Blues.
REST IN LOVE, Pops! Although John Witherspoon was most notably known for his roles in “Friday,” “Next Friday,” “Last Friday,” and “The Boondocks,” he made you laugh till’ your sides hurt in every role he played. Here’s a thread of pure funny. ⬇️ #JohnWitherspoon #RIP pic.twitter.com/V3Y4vzCdP3
— ShakariSBriggs (@ShakariSBriggs) October 30, 2019
He first teamed up with Ice Cube on 1995’s Friday, a role he later reprised in Next Friday, Friday After Next and he was due to play once again in Last Friday.
He also provided the voice of Gramps in animated show The Boondocks from 2005-2014, which is currently being revived for HBO ahead of its return next year.