World-famous actor-comedian John Witherspoon is reported as having died suddenly in his home on Tuesday.
Witherspoon, who leaves us at the age of 77, brought audiences to laughter for decades, having featured in several films, as well as TV shows. The veteran is probably best known for his role in hit movie Friday and playing the Wayans brothers' father in their sitcom, The Wayans Bros.
“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 told Deadline in a statement on Tuesday night.
“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.”
The actor was born in Detroit in 1942 as john Weatherspoon and started off with stand-up comedy in the 1970s before making his debut feature in 1980's The Jazz Singer. As mentioned above, his role in Friday was perhaps his most notable and he would appear in sequels Next Friday and Friday After Next. Witherspoon was set to reprise his role as Ice Cube's dad in the last installment, Last Friday, but his untimely death makes it so that won't be the case.
"I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him," Ice Cube tweeted during the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him. pic.twitter.com/gtmiZiEppP— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 30, 2019
Marlon Wayans paid a lengthy tribute to his "TV dad," while several other celebrities are mourning Witherspoon's sudden passing.
"I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that I got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon," Wayans wrote on Instagram. "You were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already.
"Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart," he continued. "Anyone that knows me knows how much I love pops."
"Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry," he added. "I miss already.... hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on."
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I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already. Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart. Anyone that knows me knows how much i love pops. You have a strong wife and great kids. What an amazing family. Your boys damn near grew up on the #WayansBros set they’ll always be like my little brothers and sons. i will pass on all the jewels that you bestowed on to us. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set. You got “all the keys 🔑 “ and i know you got one to heaven’s gate. Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry. I miss already.... hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on. “Pops pops sugar pops”. #ripjohnwitherspoon #mysecondpops
Witherspoon also played roles in films like Soul Plane, Fakin' Da Funk, Boomerang, Ride, The Ladies Man, and Hollywood Shuffle.
He voiced Gramps on animated series The Boondocks and was likely set to return for the revival on HBO Max.
It is indeed sad to see such a heartwarming comedian pass so unexpectedly. TheRichest would like to extend our condolences to John's family, his fans, and his loved ones during this difficult period.