Update: 9:20 a.m. PT (Sept. 21, 2021): A representative for Anthony “AJ” Johnson issued the following statement to VIBE via email:
“The world of comedy has truly been shaken, again. Our BH Talent family is heartbroken about the loss of the iconic legend of stage and screen Mr. Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson. He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold. We will be in constant prayer for his entire family including his wife Lexis, 3 children, brother Edward ‘Peanut’ Smith, sister Sheila, and lifetime manager and friend Mike B. Please give them the time they need to process and grieve such a huge loss.”
Actor and comedian Anthony “AJ” Johnson has died at the age of 56. The news was confirmed to TMZ by his nephew. According to the outlet, Johnson best known for his role as Ezal in the classic comedy film Friday was found unresponsive in a Los Angeles store earlier this month.
Johnson was rushed to the local hospital where he was pronounced dead. An official cause of death has not been released. Although he is best known for the aforementioned movie, the actor succeeded in other roles delivering comedic, quotable one-liners in a variety of films and led an on-stage stand-up career.
Johnson’s Hollywood start came in 1990 when he landed the role of E.Z.E. in House Party. From there, he continued to do stand-up and played parts in Lethal Weapon 3 and Menace II Society. He eventually landed the stand-out role of Ezal and went on to become a Black comedy favorite.
His resume includes adding humor to almost 50 films and television shows, including Moesha, Martin, Malcolm & Eddie, The Players Club, I Got the Hook Up, and its sequel, B*A*P*S*, How To Be A Player, Def Comedy Jam, and The Jamie Foxx Show.
It’s also rumored Johnson was cast to reprise his role in the upcoming Last Friday.
Ice Cube, writer and star of Friday, shared his condolences for Johnson on Twitter Monday (Sept. 20) morning.
“Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away,” he wrote. “Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday…”
Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday… https://t.co/gKbYZDZ4Br
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 20, 2021
VIBE will continue to provide updates as this story develops. VIBE has reached out via email to Johnson’s listed contact for further details.