Actor Fred Willard, Who Shined In Movies Like "Best In Show" And "Anchorman," Has Died At 86

His daughter Hope said he died "very peacefully" on Friday night. "He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end."

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

Actor and comedian Fred Willard, whose decadeslong career included memorable roles in Best in Show, as well as the TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, has died of natural causes, his representative told to BuzzFeed News. He was 86.

Willard's daughter, Hope, said he died "very peacefully" on Friday night.

"He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much!" she said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "We will miss him forever."

Willard was a prolific actor who spent more than 50 years in Hollywood making people laugh. He got his start making appearances on iconic comedy shows like The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and The Tonight Show.

The actor’s long-standing career landed him countless roles on TV and in film, including guest roles on Roseanne, Sister, Sister, and That ‘70s Show. He was even working up until the coronavirus quarantine, flexing his comedy chops on Jimmy Kimmel Live doing comedy sketches.

He acted in a slew of TV shows and movies, including the cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. In 2004, Willard took his talents to the big screen and played the famous role of Ed Harken in Will Farrell’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Willard also returned for the 2013 sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Willard also played Frank Dunphy on Modern Family, a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a comedy.

Willard’s final role will be his posthumous appearance in Netflix’s upcoming Space Force, starring alongside Steve Carrell and created by Greg Daniels, which starts streaming on May 29.

“Fred truly enjoyed each role and gave each performance his own special spin,” his representative told BuzzFeed News. “He was truly a comedic genius.”

In the wake of his death, Hollywood is remembering Willard and the joy he brought to the world.

Jamie Lee Curtis, whose husband Christopher Guest worked alongside Willard on several projects, tweeted, “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.”

Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal shared a photo of Willard and his wife on their wedding day. “Our beloved friend and one of the world’s funniest people has passed. Rest In Peace Fred,” he wrote. “We all love you.”

Our beloved friend and one of the world’s funniest people has passed. Rest In Peace Fred. We all love you. @Fred_Willard ❤️

Devastated to learn that the great Fred Willard has died. I was honored to have called him a friend. One of the funniest, nicest, sweetest, purest souls I have ever had the privilege to know. He was my hero from Fernwood Tonight when I was a kid. He was never not funny. RIP Fred.

We were fortunate to have worked with the hilarious Fred Willard on several episodes of Sister, Sister. His comedy chops were unbeatable. We'll miss you, friend. 💔

One of my favorite lines in a movie ever was delivered by Fred Willard in BEST IN SHOW, after a naughty dog went after the judge: “He went after her like she was made of ham.” This man was so brilliant and he elevated the flicks and TV shows in which he popped up. RIP, Funny Man!

Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.

Willard's wife, Mary, died two years ago at 71 years old. He is survived by Hope, their daughter.



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