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Actor and comedian John Witherspoon dies at 77: Tributes pour in as family say they are ‘in shock’

Actor and comedian John Witherspoon
Actor and comedian John Witherspoon dies at 77. Pic credit: @ImageCollect.com/Globe-Photos

Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, best known for playing Ice Cube’s dad Willie Jones in the Friday film series, has died at the age of 77. He passed away Tuesday at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. No cause of death has yet been revealed, but his family said they were “in shock”.

Witherspoon’s manager Alex Goodman confirmed his death on Tuesday. His family also released a statement to Deadline:

“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 […] 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.”

The family also released a statement on Twitter.

His son JD Witherspoon paid tribute on Twitter.

Tributes pour in on Twitter

Fans, colleagues, friends and celebs have been paying tribute on Twitter. Former Friday cast-mates who posted messages in his honor include Ice Cube, who played Craig Jones, and Regina King, who played Willie’s daughter Dana. Marlon Wayans and Jay Pharoah also paid tribute.

https://twitter.com/AriLennox/status/1189418481063620608

Who was John Witherspoon?

John Witherspoon was born in Detroit, Michigan in January 27, 1942. He started his entertainment career as a stand-up comedian and began acting on TV in the late 1970s, making his feature debut in The Jazz Singer (1980).

He married Angela Robinson Witherspoon in 1988.

Witherspoon appeared in all three Friday films — Friday (1995), Next Friday (2000), and Friday After Next (2002) — as Willie Jones. He voiced Robert “Granddad” Freeman in The Boondocks (2005-2014) animated series, alongside Gary Anthony Williams as Uncle Ruckus. He also played John “Pops” Williams in The Wayans Bros. (1995-1999).

Witherspoon’s film credits include his role as Mr. Jones in Hollywood Shuffle (1987) and Silas Green in Vampire in Brooklyn (1995). He played Mr. Jackson in Boomerang (1992), alongside Eddie Murphy as Marcus and Robert Givens as Jacqueline. He also appeared as Bill in Fakin’ Da Funk (1997) and Scrap Iron in The Ladies Man (2000).

Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela Robinson, and sons JD and Alexander.

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