Celebrated comic actor John Witherspoon, best known for his iconic role as Willie Jones in the Friday series, has died. 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," Witherspoon's family said in a statement to ET.
"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," the statement added. "John used to say ‘I’m no big deal,’ but he was huge deal to us.”
It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you “POPS” always & forever.
Witherspoon began his stand-up comedy career in the 1970s, where he made friends with some of the biggest comics working in the industry at the time. His comedic talents opened the door to a storied screen career.
His biggest TV role came when he played the father to Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans on the WB sitcom The Wayans Bros. He also famously starred in Friday and its sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next, which cemented his reputation as a beloved comic presence.
Witherspoon's son, J.D. Witherspoon, took to Twitter later Tuesday evening to share a heartfelt message in honor of his father's memory, along with a series of family photos.
"So...my Dad died today & honestly I’m not sure how to feel. I’m sad, but I’m also happy 4 all the great times we had together. We’d roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol," J.D. wrote. "Love U Dad...I’ll miss u."
So...my Dad died today & honestly I’m not sure how to feel. I’m sad, but I’m also happy 4 all the great times we had together. We’d roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol.