US comedian Fred Willard passes away

18 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

US comedian Fred Willard passes away

Four-time Emmy award-winning comedian Fred Willard, who appeared in films including "Anchorman" and "This is Spinal Tap" and television shows such as "Modern Family," has died aged 86, his agent announced Saturday, reports AFP.

Tributes poured in for the actor, with long-time friend and fellow showbiz veteran Jamie Lee Curtis tweeting "Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard."

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

Willard himself had just paid homage to two other showbiz legends, singer Little Richard and fellow comedian Jerry Stiller, who also passed away this month.

"A bad time! Just getting over the loss of Little Richard, and now I learn my old friend Jerry Stiller has passed away. He was a good friend and a very funny man," he wrote on May 11, in the last thread on his Twitter account.

"I met him in the 60s when we played in the same clubs in The Village as he and Anne Meara. Unfortunately for us, they were much funnier! We couldn't be jealous, so we became good friends instead." Modern audiences knew Willard as the TV father of actor Ty Burrell's character Phil Dunphy on ABC's hit sitcom "Modern Family."

But his decades-long career saw him make audiences laugh in ensemble films such as "Waiting for Guffman," "A Mighty Wind" and "Best in Show."