Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
jakeem

Actor-comedian Fred Willard (1933-2020)

Recommended Posts

The actor-comedian Fred Willard, known for his versatility and membership in Christopher Guest's film repertory company, died Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 86. His agent Mike Eisenstadt  attributed the death to natural causes. 

See the source image

Willard developed his improvisational skills at Chicago's Second City in the 1960s. He later became familiar to television viewers as a member of the comedy troupe Ace Trucking Company. The group, which made appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and other variety shows during the 1970s, also featured Bill Saluga, Michael Mislove, Patti Deutsch and George Memmoli.  

See the source image

In 1977, Willard co-starred with Martin Mull and Frank De Vol in the satirical talk show "Fernwood 2 Night," a summer spinoff of Norman Lear's late-night syndicated soap opera "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Mull starred as show host Barth Gimble, while Willard played his announcer and sidekick Jerry Hubbard. De Vol was the bandleader Happy Kyne. In 1978. the show evolved into "America 2-Night" after moving from Fernwood, Ohio to Southern California.

See the source image

Willard had a noteworthy dramatic role in the 1979 CBS miniseries "Salem's Lot," a supernatural thriller based on the novel by Stephen King. He played Larry Crockett, a prosperous real estate agent having an affair with his secretary Bonnie Sawyer (played byJulie Cobb).

Salem's Lot (1979)

Willard first worked onscreen with the actor-writer-director Guest in the groundbreaking 1984 mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," directed by Rob Reiner. He had a small part as U.S. Air Force Lt. Bob Hookstratten, who escorts the title rock band (whose members were played by Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) during a visit to a military base. Willard went on to collaborate with Guest on the acclaimed  mockumentaries "Waiting for Guffman" (1996), "Best in Show" (2000), "A Mighty Wind" (2003), "For Your Consideration" (2006) and the 2016 Netflix production "Mascots."
 
 
In "Best in Show," Willard played a dog show commentator inspired by Joe Garagiola -- the veteran baseball announcer who presided over telecasts of "The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" on USA Network. The usually affable Garagiola reportedly was not pleased by Willard's character. 
 
 
From 2010 to 2020, Willard was a semi-regular in ABC's  Primetime Emmy Award-winning comedy series "Modern Family." He appeared as  Frank Dunphy, the father of Phil Dunphy (played by series star Ty Burrell, pictured below on the left). Willard's character died of natural causes in the Season 11 episode "Legacy," which aired on January 15, 2020 during one of the show's final half hours.
 
See the source image
 
Willard's final role can be seen in the upcoming 10-part Netflix comedy  series "Space Force," which stars Steve Carell and John Malkovich, and also features appearances by Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, Diedrich Bader and Noah Emmerich. Willard was cast as Fred Naird, the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
 
Fred Willard Space Force

 

JLVZ3Ny3_bigger.jpg

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. 
 
1:49 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet.
 
2:58 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 
 

 FO2-YMNR_bigger.jpg

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.
 
3:25 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPad
 

qq1NXWf1_bigger.png

Fred Willard’s comic persona was that of a hip dad-joke - a thing that shouldn’t exist! - which was why there was no one like him.
 
3:04 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
My heart is heavy at the news of #FredWillard’s passing. What a kind man and what a glorious talent. There was no one funnier on earth. My family was lucky to be welcomed into his orbit. He and his wife Mary were superb hosts—generous to a fault. Can’t believe they’re both gone.
 
Image
 
 
2:51 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
 
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember Fred Willard as a cast member of the satire talk show,  Fernwood Tonight,  playing the side-kick to host Martin Mull.

Fred was just down right funny and one of  his specialties was as a set-up man.    Of course I also loved the show because Mull was a good guitar player that loved jazz and the show would sometimes feature jazz guitar players I took lessons from. 

 

image.jpeg.82d72deaf7f920434d50881a23ed71c6.jpegRemembering Fernwood Tonight [Videos] | Globe Tribune.Info בס”ד

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to a filming of one of the episodes of The Drew Carey Show in late 2003. Actually, I went to two different ones. And one of them had Fred Willard as a guest star. I remember there was a scene that was not up to the usual quality. Something about it was flat, just not funny. But the way Fred Willard delivered his lines, he made it funny. He had a controlled yet outlandish way of delivering his dialogue. 

When I saw him do that scene on Drew Carey it was clear to me that he was a master of comedy. I remember thinking to myself, why didn't he ever have his own sitcom, all to himself. He was usually assigned supporting roles and guest roles. He deserved more.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fred attended the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2017 for a screening of Best In Show" _

 

Fred Willard at TCFF

@ 13:11 – Fred Willard et al. discuss Best In Show”

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fred Willard-- I just loved the guy. He showed up everywhere over the decades-- Fernwood, The Tonight Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family etc.

It was performers like him who made broadcast TV worthwhile.

They won't be replaced, and that's a real loss

Fred was a real Pro.  No matter how mundane the material was, he always made you laugh.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fred Willard was hilarious.  I didn't realize he was so old.  He was hysterical in Best of Show. I loved his performance as the host of the dog show who knows absolutely nothing about dogs.  He was also really funny as Leon's (Martin Mull) boyfriend in Roseanne. I loved him in all of the Christopher Guest movies, especially the aforementioned Best of Show. He was also in an episode of The Golden Girls.  He plays one of Dorothy's beaus. He was one of those guys who seemed to pop-up everywhere.

RIP. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Fred Willard was hilarious.  I didn't realize he was so old.

Agree with that. I should have known he had passed seeing all the suggested clips of him on YT. I barely recognised him with white hair-he was always the "good looking" comedic actor, somewhat resembling James Garner.

When people say there are no great character actors anymore, they've forgotten gems like Fred Willard, he elevated so many movies/TV even in the smallest roles. I did not realize Spiñal Tap was his first role, I certainly recognised him from TV.

Thanks for the memories, Fred! Rest In Peace.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a great comedic actor. He had so many memorable rolls. One obscure clip I always remember was a take-off on SNL about specialty stores. He played the owner of a Scotch tape store. I think it was Mary Kay Place that played his wife and partner in the business. His pitch was "we only sell the sticky kind". I had no idea he was 86, but then I still cannot believe I'm 70.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When hearing the news Saturday, I had a moment to shiver....

The night before I saw him in a rerun of THAT 70's SHOW, paired with SETH GREEN as a Father/son team in some local fair competition.  

He always brought a brilliance to every role he played.  And I enjoyed his delight when he went 'round on talk shows remembering his joke about blind prostitutes.....

"You've really got to hand it to them......"  :D

Sepiatone

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That’s too bad.  He was a really great and really funny guy.  I was watching the reports on his death on all kinds of the news and stuff and some of these videos here on this thread from when he was at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival.  I haven’t finished yet.  But I will and What a really cool career he had.  Whoa.  I hope TCM pays tribute to him.  I would really love to see that.  Something tells me there will be one coming next month.  I hope so.  We’ll see.  Did TCM show any Carson On TCM segments from when he was on when Conan O Brian hosted?  That would be so cool to see sometime too and I wonder if he was a guest programmer or guest host?  I’m sure for Johnny he was a guest host.  But here on TCM I mean.  I saw the picture of him from when he was on Jay Leno.  Cool picture.  I bet he was on Merv Griffin and Dick Cavett too.  We’ll all  miss him.  Won’t We?  Fred.  We’ll miss you.  We love you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...