Actor and comedian John Witherspoon died at his home on Tuesday (Oct. 30). The late actor’s family released a statement on Twitter.
“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 (Los Angeles) at the age of 77,” his family said in a statement. Witherspoon is survived by his wife, two sons and “a large family,” the statement said.
“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.”
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
The cause of Witherspoon’s death is unknown.
The Detroit native is mostly known for playing Ice Cube’s father in his directorial debut Friday, as well as its sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
“I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon,” Ice Cube wrote on Twitter. “Life won’t be as funny without him,” Ice Cube wrote on Twitter.
Witherspoon also played John “Pops” Williams on the sitcom The Wayans Bros, portrayed the character Spoon on NBC’s The Tracey Morgan Show, and had roles alongside Eddie Murphy in Boomerang and Vampire in Brooklyn. He contributed voice acting to The Boondocks, where he played Granddad alongside Regina King, who voiced the two children, Riley and Huey Freeman. Most recently, Witherspoon received television credits on The First Family, black-ish, and the Adult Swim series Black Jesus.
But along with his work on TV and film, Witherspoon was well-liked throughout the hip-hop community and appeared in multiple music videos, even playing a small role in Death Row’s 1995 mini-film Murder Was the Case. Below is a brief list of music videos that Witherspoon appeared in among some of rap’s greats.
Jay Z – “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)”
In the video for his Neptunes-produced hit, Jay-Z is hosting a mansion party with his Roc-A-Fella family that’s causing a racket in his neighborhood. John Witherspoon is in full “get off my lawn” mode as an ornery neighbor. But once he sees the beautiful women rolling in, he changes his tune. He eventually scams his way into the party by faking like he’s other black celebs – “don’t y’all know me? I’m Will Smith! Jackie Robinson! Jay-Z!” – and dances the night away.
Field Mob – “Sick of Being Lonely”
Field Mob’s “Sick of Being Lonely” was a bop when it dropped in 2001, and the Atlanta duo had John Witherspoon come by and relived a couple of his memorable moments from Friday and The Wayans Brothers. Then Witherspoon does a quick dance and tells the two artists to kiss ladies “from the roota to the toota,” citing the title of their album.
Goodie Mob – “They Don’t Dance No Mo”
The lead single from Goodie Mob’s 1998 album Still Standing, “They Don’t Dance No Mo” finds John Witherspoon sitting in his living room entertaining his family as he brags on his dancing skills. After showing off his signature shoulder shake, Witherspoon calls on his son, played by Goodie Mob member CeeLo Green, to display his footwork as well. Witherspoon appears at the conclusion of the video, where we see him and his family dancing together.
LL Cool J – “Ain’t Nobody”
LL Cool J’s “Ain’t Nobody” video is a musical family reunion. The fun-filled clip, where everyone enjoys time in a huge swimming pool, features the likes of Brian McKnight, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro, Cedric the Entertainer, and former NBA player John Salley, among others. A shirtless Witherspoon, surrounded by women, appears near the end of the video performing his signature shoulder shake.
Hitman Sammy Sam – “Step Daddy”
In the most obscure video of the bunch, Atlanta rapper Hitman Sammy Sam’s 2003 song “Step Daddy” depicts how stepfathers are disrespected by their spouse’s children. In the hilarious video, Witherspoon plays the song’s namesake, with two bad ass kids running him ragged.