Fred Willard, the prolific comedian, actor, and writer whose career spanned more than half a century, has died at the age of 86. Willard’s daughter confirmed his death to Rolling Stone, noting that it was from natural causes. “My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old,” she said. “He kept moving, working, and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.” Willard, who began his comedy career in The Second City troupe, is perhaps best known for his frequent collaborations with Christopher Guest in the mockumentary genre: He’s appeared in projects such as Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots, in addition to Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap. Willard also had a stable presence in television and film for several decades, with some of his most recent roles including Modern Family, Anchorman, and I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson. He will appear posthumously in Netflix’s Space Force later this month.
In an interview with Vulture several years ago, Willard reminisced about getting his start on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, as well as how he prefers to view himself, above all else, as a family-friendly comedian. “I’ve been in a lot of shows, I will say that. Every once in a while I’ll look at a tape of something I’ve done and I won’t even remember having done it,” he joked about his extremely long résumé. “If an offer comes in, I’ll always say, ‘It sounds great, just send me a script.’ If I read it through and I kind of like the part, I’ll usually try to do it. It’s really difficult for an actor to turn something down.” Willard added that he felt acting in G- or PG-related films “takes much more talent” than raunchier projects. “I’m pleased as I can be,” he said about his career, “because it makes up for all the things that you should have done and you couldn’t.”