Beloved comedic actor Fred Willard has died at the age of 86.
Known best for his roles in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, Waiting for Guffman, This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show, recently Willard had been a steady presence on TV in Modern Family.
News of Willard’s was broken by Jamie Lee Curtis, who is married to Guest.
Curtis tweeted: “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.”
Willard’s wife Mary died in 2018.
The actor’s representative Glenn Schwartz told The Guardian in a statement that the cause of death was natural causes.
Willard’s daughter Hope Mulbarger said in the same statement: “My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86. He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much. We will miss him forever.”
Willard played the affable father of Modern Family character Phil Dunphy in the long-running TV sitcom.
He was a scene-stealing and prolific actor whose many film credits also included Anchorman, For Your Consideration, Wall-E, The Wedding Planner, Youth in Revolt, Roxanne and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.
He was a regular on TV, guest starring on shows such as New Girl, Community, Drunk History, Hot in Cleveland, The Closer, Mad About You and Ally McBeal.
He has a recurring role in the Steve Carell and Greg Daniels co-created comedy Space Force, which will be released on Netflix at the end of this month.
Carell was among the many tributes who offered their tributes in the wake of Willard’s death. He tweeted: “Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.”
Director and producer Judd Apatow said: “Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet.”
Willard was born in Ohio, US in 1933.
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