John Witherspoon, the beloved actor and comedian from Boomerang, Friday, Hollywood Shuffle, The Five Heartbeats, The Wayan Bros. and more, died on Tuesday (Oct. 29). He was 77.
According to Deadline, Witherspoon died suddenly at his Southern California home. “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 at the age of 77,” Witherspoon’s family said in a statement to the outlet. “He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. 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 huge deal to us.”
Further information surrounding his death wasn’t immediately available at press time.
DJ Pooh who co-wrote Friday tweeted, “RIP John Witherspoon” on Tuesday (Oct. 29), but many fans didn’t want to believe that the tweet was authentic. Regina King, Witherspoon’s co-star on The Boondocks, also posted about his passing.
Witherspoon, who was born in Detroit, launched a stand-up comedy career during the ‘60s and ‘70s. His early gigs include an uncredited appearance on The Richard Pryor Show, as well as guest spots on The Incredible Hulk TV series, What’s Happening, Good Times, Hill Street Blues, 227 and Amen. The lovable character actor garnered a reputation for playing characters like “Pops” on The Wayans Bros., Ice Cube’s dog-catching burrito loving father on Friday, and the irritated neighbor in House Party.
His final roles included Black Jesus, Bojack Horseman, and Last Friday, which is reportedly in pre-production.
Read some of the messages paying tribute to Witherspoon below.
So…my Dad died today & honestly I’m not sure how to feel. I’m sad, but I’m also happy 4 all the great times we had together. We’d roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol.
Love U Dad…I’ll miss u.
– J.D. pic.twitter.com/zvzep5S11I
— J.D. (@jdwitherspoon) October 30, 2019
Rip John Witherspoon 😔🙏🏽
— DJ POOH (@DJPooh) October 30, 2019
My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King pic.twitter.com/U6GsNrrKXF
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) October 30, 2019
I’m seeing RIP John Witherspoon tweets pic.twitter.com/5nAWT2xoks
— Sean Baker (@YesLordMegatron) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon is one of those presences you just expect to always be around man
— Tune (@CartuneNetwerk) October 30, 2019