Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, who dedicated his life to making others laugh, died in his home on Tuesday. He was 77 years old. “It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away,” the Witherspoon family shared on Twitter. “He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years.”
Born in Detroit in 1942, Witherspoon got his start doing stand-up and in the 1970s, he began acting in guest roles on television. In 1980, he made his feature debut in The Jazz Singer. He went on to appear in a number of films, including The Ladies Man and Fakin’ Da Funk. Witherspoon may be best remembered for his role in the movie Friday, in which he played Ice Cube’s father. Witherspoon also voiced the character Gramps on The Boondocks, which was set for an HBO Max revival airing in 2020. Witherspoon frequently appeared on comedy shows like The Wayans Bros., The Tracy Morgan Show, and Black Jesus.
Up until his death, Witherspoon continued to make others laugh, whether it be through stand-up or just at home with his wife, Angela, and his sons, J.D. and Alexander. “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,” his family wrote in a statement to Deadline. “John used to say ‘I’m no big deal’, but he was a huge deal to us.”