Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, best known for his role in the Friday movie franchise, died at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday. He was 77.
“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 NBC News.
“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.”
Witherspoon launched his stand-up comedy career in the late 1970s and went on to star in hit films and television shows including The Jazz Singer, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, and “The Wayans Bros.,” in which he played John “Pops” Williams. His most notable role was the father figure Mr. Jones alongside Ice Cube in 1995’s Friday and the sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
He was also a voice actor in the animated series “The Boondocks” and appeared on “The Tracy Morgan Show.”
Witherspoon’s fans, friends, and co-stars took to social media to mourn his death. “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him,” tweeted Ice Cube, while Marlon Wayans added, “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.”
Others including T.I., Lizzo, and Chance the Rapper also expressed their condolences. “Glad I had a chance to get to know you King. You’re truly one of the funniest most genuine people anyone could ever meet. Rest easy and God bless your transition,” wrote Tip, while Chance added, “God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow.”
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