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Thread: Fred Willard, actor Modern Family, Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond, dead at 86

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    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Default Fred Willard, actor Modern Family, Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond, dead at 86

    Source: Rolling Stone

    Fred Willard, ‘Best in Show’ and ‘A Mighty Wind’ Actor, Dead at 86

    Prolific comic actor was master of mockumentary genre



    Fred Willard, the comic actor who stood out in mockumentaries like 'Best in Show' and 'This Is Spinal Tap,' has died at the age of 86.
    Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/Shutterstock



    Fred Willard, the prolific and beloved comic actor and master of the mockumentary genre who stood out in ensemble comedies like Best in Show, For Your Consideration and This Is Spinal Tap, died Friday at the age of 86.


    Willard’s rep Glenn Schwartz confirmed his death to Rolling Stone, adding that the cause of death was natural causes. Willard’s daughter Hope Mulbarger said in a statement, “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.”


    Jamie Lee Curtis, wife of Willard’s longtime director Christopher Guest, first shared news of the actor’s death.


    “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” Curtis tweeted. “He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.” Willard’s wife of 40 years, Mary, died in 2018.




    “A four-time Emmy nominee radiated a unique charm that established him as one of our generation’s most gifted comic actors,” Willard’s rep wrote in a tribute. “A master of sketch comedy, Fred was most heralded for his quick wit and improvisational expertise, which he demonstrated in hundreds of appearances on stage, on the big screen, and on a wide range of television shows.”

    Willard is best known for his work in Guest’s comedies — Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, For Your Consideration and A Mighty Wind — as well as scene-stealing moments in This Is Spinal Tap, Anchorman, Austin Powers and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

    A veteran of the stage and sketch comedy, the Shaker Heights, Ohio-born Willard made his big-screen debut in a little-seen 1967 film titled Teenage Mother. After a decade of bit parts, Willard landed a role on the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman spinoff Fernwood 2 Night in 1977; the following year Willard hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live with musical guest Devo.


    Willard’s work with Guest first began in 1984 when the two appeared onscreen together in Rob Reiner’s groundbreaking mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap in a scene where Willard’s Air Force lieutenant gives the Spinal Tap, including Guest’s Nigel Tufnel, a tour of the military base. Guest would later cast Willard in prominent roles in five mockumentaries he helmed, most recently 2016’s Mascots.


    With hundreds of credits over an acting career that spanned over 50 years, Willard built a reputation where he could pop up in any setting — sitcoms (New Girl, Community, Modern Family), cartoons, late-night TV, offbeat comedies (Tim & Eric, Comedy Bang! Bang!, I Think You Should Leave), reality television (The Bachelor and The Bachelorette), game shows, commercials, even soap operas (an Emmy-nominated turn on The Bold and the Beautiful) — and it was not out of character.Willard will appear posthumously in the upcoming Netflix satirical series Space Force; a testament to his enormous filmography, Willard previously starred in an unrelated 1978 TV movie also titled Space Force, which he lampooned in a 2019 Jimmy Kimmel Live sketch. Kimmel tweeted Saturday, “There was no man sweeter or funnier. We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.” Willard was a beloved guest on late-night; in addition to his many Kimmel cameos, a compilation of Willard’s frequent visits to David Letterman’s shows runs for nearly three hours.

    Steve Carell, Willard’s cast mate in Anchorman and Space Force, tweeted Saturday, “Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.”


    He was the perfect actor to play Phil Dunphy's dad.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

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    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    Oh no! He was hilarious. Loved him in the Christopher guest movies
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    I was just watching him in "Silver Streak" this week! Very young back then. He plays the assistant manager of the terminal of the train station that is about to get demolished. Very funny, always upbeat kind of guy.

    I love that his daughter seemed so crazy about him. I'm hoping I can pull that off, too, LOL.

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    He was the funniest. Hard to believe he was 86!!

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    Oh, man. He was in so many of my favorite shows and he was always so funny. I can't pick a favorite role from his resume. Rest in peace.

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    I didn't realize he was that old. He was a funny guy too.
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    I too was shocked he was 86! Loved him on Fernwood 2 Night with Martin Mull. And always thought it was so funny they later played a gay couple on Roseanne. He was one of those actors who always made something better just by being there. RIP.
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    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    Loved him in Best of Show. To me he is my male version of Betty White. I may watch Best in Show later.
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    He was hysterical in Best in Show.
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    ^And from what I remember, a lot of that stuff was ad-libbed too.

    And didn't he have the penis reduction in Waiting For Guffman? Because Catherine O'Hara couldn't very well get a vagina enlargement.
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    ^yes, all of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries were completely improvised! Such a talent. Gonna watch his work over the next few days.

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    OMG -- I missed this. He was a funny guy. RIP.

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