Fred Willard dead at age 86


(CBS) – Fred Willard, the beloved and prolific comedy actor, died in Los Angeles overnight, Willard’s daughter confirmed to CBS News in a statement. He was 86 years old. 

“My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old,” Willard’s daughter Hope said in a statement. “He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”

The cause of death was not released. 

Willard had over 300 acting credits to his name, according to IMDB, including a recurring role on the sitcom “Modern Family” and a role in the upcoming show “Space Force” starring Steve Carell. Carell tweeted on Saturday that Willard was the “funniest person I’ve ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.” 

He was perhaps best known for his numerous roles in the “mockumentary” comedies of writer and director Christopher Guest, including “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” and “Waiting for Guffman.”

Guest’s wife, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, paid tribute to Willard on Twitter Saturday. “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” she wrote. “He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.”

Willard’s agent Michael Eisenstadt said in a statement that he “was one of the busiest comedic actors in a career which lasted over 50 years.”

“He had recently completed his Emmy nominated recurring role on Modern Family and can be seen later this month in his recurring role as Steve Carrell’s dad in the Netflix series Space Force. Jimmy Kimmel had Fred recur on his show on an average of every two weeks doing comedic sketches until the stay at home order began,” Eisenstadt said.

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

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