/Fred Willard, Comic Actor Who Thrived in Ensembles, Dies at 86

Fred Willard, Comic Actor Who Thrived in Ensembles, Dies at 86

Fred Willard, the Emmy Award-nominated comedian actor finest recognized for his scene-stealing roles in Christopher Guest ensemble comedies like “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman,” died on Friday at his dwelling in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Mike Eisenstadt, Mr. Willard’s agent, confirmed the dying.

Mr. Willard performed Frank Dunphy, the daddy of Ty Burrell’s Phil Dunphy, on the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.” In 2010, his efficiency earned him an Emmy nomination for excellent visitor actor in a comedy. Mr. Willard’s character died of outdated age in the present’s last season, which not too long ago ended.

Mr. Willard made his first network television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.

He rose to prominence playing Jerry Hubbard, the sidekick to Martin Mull’s talk-show host Barth Gimble, on the satirical series “Fernwood Tonight” in 1977.

In the following years, he became known as king of the deadpan cameo.

Early in his career, he was a member of the improv groups the Second City and Ace Trucking Company. He later appeared on episodes of “Love, American Style,” “Murphy Brown” and many other TV shows.

Beginning in 1992, Mr. Willard made 50 appearances in sketches on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

His roles in Christopher Guest’s films, comedies in which all the dialogue was improvised, notably included an ill-informed TV announcer at a dog competition in “Best in Show” (2000).

More recently, Mr. Eisenstadt said, the late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel had Mr. Willard on his show about every other week to do sketches until stay-at-home orders began going into effect.

Later this month, Mr. Willard will appear as Steve Carrell’s father in the Netflix series “Space Force.”

Mr. Willard’s survivors include a daughter, Hope Willard. His wife, the writer Mary Willard, died in 2018.

A complete obituary will be published shortly.

Source link Nytimes.com

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