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Fred Willard, the Emmy-nominated actor who played clueless characters to perfection on Fernwood 2 Night and Everybody Loves Raymond, died Friday. He was 86.
Hollywood figures have taken to social media to pay tribute to the actor, who was known for such roles as Ed Harken in the two Anchorman films and received Emmy nominations for portraying Hank MacDougall, the conservative father-in-law of Brad Garrett’s Robert, on Everybody Loves Raymond and for playing Frank Dunphy, father of Ty Burrell’s Phil, on Modern Family.
On Twitter, Jamie Lee Curtis shared a clip from Willard’s 2000 comedy Best in Show while writing: “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard.”
Steve Carell, who starred alongside Willard in both Anchorman films, remembered him for being “the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.”
Christina Applegate, also a fellow Anchorman actor, wrote she was “gutted” over the news of Willard’s death: “His immense talent and kindness will never be forgotten. We love you Fred Willard. Thank you for the decades of laughter.”
Steve Martin tweeted, “RIP, Fred. You were always my comic hero. I was thrilled to work with you in Roxanne.”
Kathy Griffin tweeted about the first time getting to work with the “legendary” Fred Willard: “Ironically it was a table reading for a Drama/comedy play. I was still in The Groundlings in those days. He looked right in my eyes when we had dialogue. Basic but vital acting tip. Oh and funny as f**k.”
Minnie Driver acknowledged the deaths of both Willard and film director Lynn Shelton, who died Friday, writing, “Geniuses. Kind, dear geniuses. How lucky we were to have them.”
See more reactions to Willard’s death, below.
RIP Fred Willard ..you were incomparable
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) May 16, 2020
My heart is heavy at the news of #FredWillard’s passing. What a kind man and what a glorious talent. There was no one funnier on earth. My family was lucky to be welcomed into his orbit. He and his wife Mary were superb hosts—generous to a fault. Can’t believe they’re both gone. pic.twitter.com/C0pGXgX4ms
— Leonard Maltin (@leonardmaltin) May 16, 2020
There was no man sweeter or funnier. We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits https://t.co/joHM39o8k4
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 16, 2020
Such a sad day. We’ve lost #FredWillard and he will be missed. He was in our “Aristocrats” and killed. He’ll always be “Fernwood Tonight” to me, inventing modern comedy with #MartinMull. Fred never winked, he played the comedy pure. Genius. Perfect. pic.twitter.com/AZ0IrIrQyA
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) May 16, 2020
Nobody funnier than #FredWillard. And when he happened to be in an audience, nobody laughed harder. Just saw him before quarantine & already miss him. He was my biggest fan and I am his. Fred & Mary were so kind to me. Sending a big virtual hug to his family, friends and fans pic.twitter.com/XAIsVzuwEs
— Jeff Ross (@realjeffreyross) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard always made me laugh. I just adored him, and today I’m sending love to his family and his many friends.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard was a brilliant comic actor and improvisor. He could make anything funny. His work goes down as some of the funniest ever,
From Jerry Hubbard on…he inspired and influenced so many people in comedy.
Sending love to his family.
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) May 16, 2020
So sad to hear about Fred Willard. He was a brilliant satirist. Made you laugh from your gut. And the kindest of souls.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) May 16, 2020
Easily one of the funniest, nicest people I’ve ever met. Thank you for decades of laughter Fred.https://t.co/PcwoB8B7sn
— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) May 16, 2020
Devastated to learn that the great Fred Willard has died. I was honored to have called him a friend. One of the funniest, nicest, sweetest, purest souls I have ever had the privilege to know. He was my hero from Fernwood Tonight when I was a kid. He was never not funny. RIP Fred.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard. The dear hilarious kind man we just lost. Here am I with he and Martin Mull while shooting a documentary about Martin. Seeing them having fun together reminiscent of the Fernwood days was truly a joy. Rest In Peace dear Fred. pic.twitter.com/mnYHzhlxLQ
— bob saget (@bobsaget) May 16, 2020
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