×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John Witherspoon, ‘Friday’ Actor and Comedian, Dies at 77

John Witherspoon, the veteran actor and comedian best known for his roles in “Friday,” “House Party” and “Boomerang,” died on Tuesday. He was 77.

“It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away,” his family announced on Twitter. “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.”

Witherspoon, who was born in Detroit, appeared in several films and TV shows throughout his hilarious career, often playing over-the-top characters such as Willie Jones, the father of Ice Cube’s Craig in “Friday.” He reprised his role in the next two films, “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.”

Witherspoon was a frequent collaborator of the Wayans Brothers (“Little Man”) and Eddie Murphy, co-starring in several ’90s films opposite Murphy such as “Boomerang,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” and “Dr. Doolittle 2.” He also starred in a couple of music videos, including Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love You (Give it 2 Me).”

In the 2000s, Witherspoon voiced Robert “Granddad” Freeman opposite Regina King in the popular Cartoon Network series, “The Boondocks,” which ran for over nine seasons and had recently been ordered for two more seasons by HBO Max.

King, who first worked with Witherspoon on “Friday,” wrote on Twitter: “My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King.”

Most recently, Witherspoon co-starred in the Adult Swim comedy “Black Jesus.” The show’s third season premiered in September. He had also planned an upcoming comedy tour.

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

More TV

  • GREY'S ANATOMY - "Let's All Go

    'Grey's Anatomy': 5 Biggest Shockers From the Season 16 Midseason Finale

    Spoilers: Do not read the following unless you have watched the season 16 mid-season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy,” titled “Let’s All Go to the Bar.” The always-dramatic “Grey’s Anatomy” made sure to ramp up the action for its Season 16 mid-season finale. Not only has Meredith Grey’s love life just gotten potentially more complicated, but [...]

  • Imelda Staunton'Downton Abbey' photocall, Rome Film

    'The Crown' Has Not Cast Imelda Staunton for Seasons 5 and 6, Netflix Says

    Netflix is shooting down reports that Imelda Staunton is joining “The Crown.” “We are currently filming season 4 of ‘The Crown’ but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. Staunton, known to many as the despicable Dolores Umbridge in [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    Baby Yoda Merchandise to Debut Ahead of Holiday Shopping Season

    Purchase Baby Yoda toys, you will. Fans of the breakout character from the Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian” have been surprised that there was no merchandise pegged to the character available upon the launch of the show, given that the Christmas shopping season is rapidly approaching. But according to an individual with knowledge of the [...]

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey during a tribute to

    TV News Roundup: OWN Orders Celebrity Relationship Series '#LoveGoals'

    In today’s TV news roundup, OWN orders a new unscripted relationship series and Disney Channel orders new seasons of “The Owl House” and “Sydney to the Max.”  DATES ABC will live broadcast the “2020 NCAA Gymnastics Championship Final” on April 18. The semi finals will air the day before at 1 and 6 p.m. ET. [...]

  • Sissy book cover

    Showtime to Develop Series Based on Jacob Tobia Memoir 'Sissy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showtime is developing a half-hour dramedy based on Jacob Tobia’s memoir, Variety has learned exclusively. Tobia is a non-binary LGBTQ rights activist, actor, producer, and author. Their memoir, “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,” was published earlier this year by Putnam Books at Penguin Random House. The series, currently titled “Sissy,” would follow Tobi Gibran, a non-binary college [...]

  • Invisible Stories from HBO Asia

    Singapore Festival: HBO Asia Tells ‘Invisible Stories’

    HBO Asia has expanded its burgeoning production slate with six-episode half-hour series “Invisible Stories.” The first two episodes of the show, “Lian” and “Chuan,” play at the Singapore International Film Festival on Nov. 28. The series is by writer and director Ler Jiyuan, who previously directed part of HBO Asia Original series “Grisse.” “Like 80% [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content