Actor-comic John Witherspoon dead at 77

Los Angeles: John Witherspoon, the actor-comedian best known for the hit "Friday" franchise and "The Wayan Brothers", has passed away. He was 77.

According to Deadline, the actor died suddenly at his home on Tuesday, his family said.

"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 at the age of 77.

"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. John used to say 'I'm no big deal', but he was huge deal to us," Witherspoon's family said in a statement.

He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD and Alexander.

Witherspoon, who made a great name for himself in comedy, was born as John Weatherspoon in Detroit in 1942.

He entered showbiz through stand-up comedy and started acting in the late 1970s with guest-starring TV roles.

He made his feature debut in the film "The Jazz Singer" (1980).

Witherspoon went on to star in many films, including "Hollywood Shuffle", "Boomerang", "Vampire in Brooklyn", "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka", "Bird and The Meteor Man".

The actor was best known for his role as Ice Cube's grumpy father in 1995 comedy drama "Friday". He later reprised his role in the sequels "Next Friday" and "Friday After Next". He was expected to return in the long-in-the-works final installment of the franchise titled "Last Friday".

Ice Cube took to Twitter to mourn Witherspoon's demise.

"I'm devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won't be as funny without him," the actor wrote.

Witherspoon also had a role on the cult animated series "The Boondocks", in which he lent his voice to Gramps. He likely would have returned for the series' upcoming revival on HBO Max.

He starred on "The Wayans Brothers" as Pops, the on-screen father of Shawn and Marlon Wayans. He also featured on comedy series like "The Tracy Morgan Show", "The First Family" and "Black Jesus".

Even in his later years, stand-up was an integral part of Witherspoon's life. With a busy film and TV career too, he continued to perform regularly and was booked for several dates.

Chance the Rapper, Regina King and Marlon Wayans were among others who remembered Witherspoon.

"God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow," tweeted Chance.

"My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King," wrote Regina.

Marlon Wayans took to Instagram to pay tributes to his "second Pops".

"I'm sad. Broken. Hurt yet extremely grateful to God that I got to spend five years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon. You were my TV dad, mentor and friend. I miss you already. Something don't feel right. This is heavy on my heart..." he wrote of Witherspoon.

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