Celebrated comic actor John Witherspoon, best known for his iconic role as Willie Jones in the Friday series, has died. He was 77.
“It is with the 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,” Witherspoon’s family said in a statement to Deadline on Tuesday.
“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,” the statement added. “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
Witherspoon began his stand-up comedy career in the 1970s, where he made friends with some of the biggest comics working in the industry at the time. His comedic talents opened the door to a storied screen career.
His biggest TV role came when he played the father to Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans on the WB sitcom The Wayans Bros. He also famously starred in Friday and its sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next, which cemented his reputation as a beloved comic presence.
Actress Regina King took to Twitter Tuesday evening to share her condolences, writing, “My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King.”
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
Witherspoon is survived by his wife, Angela, and his sons, JD and Alexander.
In his memory :