Fred Willard Has Died Aged 86
Comic actor Fred Willard died of natural causes on Friday night (15 March), his agent has confirmed. He was 86.
His daughter Hope 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."
Willard is set to appear in Netflix's Space Force, and his agent Michael Eisenstadt confirmed that this will be the actor's first posthumous role.
He said: "Fred was one of the busiest comedic actors in a career which lasted over 50 years. He had recently completed his Emmy nominated recurring role on Modern Family and can be seen later this month in his recurring role as Steve Carrell's dad in the Netflix series Space Force.
"Jimmy Kimmel had Fred recur on his show on an average of every two weeks doing comedic sketches until the stay at home order began. Fred truly enjoyed each role and gave each performance his own special spin. He was truly a comedic genius."
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Willard has more than 300 acting credits to his name. He is best remembered for his roles in the Anchorman films, WALL-E and US sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
He was born in 1933 in Shaker Heights, Ohio and rose to fame in the late 70s for his performance as talk show host Jerry Hubbard in Fernwood 2 Night, Forever Fernwood and America 2-Night.
Michael McKean, who starred opposite Willard in folk music mockumentary A Mighty Wind, paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter. He said: "I'm at a loss for words, a state Fred Willard never found himself in. My friend for 40+ years, a great comic actor who had no competition because there was only one of him. We were all so lucky. Goodbye, Fred."
IT Crowd actor Chris O'Dowd, who appeared alongside Willard in BBC comedy series Family Tree, wrote: "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."
Rest in peace, Fred.
Featured Image Credit: PA