Another great has transitioned!
The legendary actor and comedian John Witherspoon passed away suddenly at his home in California, Deadline reports.
Witherspoon was a Black cultural icon, known for playing a number of roles, including his recurring role as the father in the beloved Friday franchise.
He was born January 27, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. Witherspoon began doing stand up comedy in the late 1970s and got his debut acting role in the 1980 movie, The Jazz Singer, alongside rock star Neil Diamond. He continued in film, with roles in a plethora of movies including Hollywood Shuffle, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Ladies Man and Fakin’ Da Funk.
But his breakout role came in 1995 as the wisdom toting, dog catching, hyper honest father of Ice Cube in the blockbuster hit Friday. Witherspoon would go on to play in all 3 Friday movies and was expected to reprise his role in the final movie entitled Last Friday.
Witherspoon was also known for iconic roles like “Pops” on The Wayans Bros and the voice of "Gramps" in the iconic animated series The Boondocks, also slated for a new season. He had recurring roles on The Tracy Morgan Show, The First Family and Black Jesus and was a regular guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.
He was one of those rare figures who was etched in the memory of so many. We literally grew up with him and he was embedded into our psyche, being so closely associated with such timeless classics.
His family released a statement saying, “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. 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 a huge deal to us.”
Witherspoon continued to do stand up, with several shows in the coming months. He is survived by his wife Angela, two sons, JD and Alexander, and a host of family and friends. He was 77 years old.
Thank you for the laughs Pops. You will be sorely missed.
Photo Courtesy of John Witherspoon