This week, star of This Is Spinal Tap, Mascots, and Anchorman Fred Willard sadly passed away from natural causes. The actor was 86 years old.
Born Frederick Charles Willard in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on September 18, 1933, the actor had sixty years of film work under his belt. He first began his acting career on the stage in the 1950s, meeting Vic Grecco along the way and forming the comedy duo “Willard & Grecco”. The two performed in the New York area and appeared on several late night shows, including The Tonight Show. After Willard and Grecco parted ways professionally, he joined Second City, and later hosted the talk show What’s Hot, What’s Not, for which he won an Emmy.
Willard’s career is marked by his work with fellow comedian Christopher Guest, with whom he worked on A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, and the famous mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. He received the Boston Film Critics Award, an American Comedy Award, a Sierra Award and a tribute from AFI for his role as Buck Laughlin in Best in Show. He also played Ed Harken in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. His last role before his passing was in Netflix’s Space Force as Fred Naird.
Willard’s wife of 40 years, Mary Lovell, passed away in 2018. Together they had one daughter, Hope, and one grandchild, Freddie, born in 1997. Many fellow actors and admirers, as seen below, have made statements on their experiences working with Willard over the years.
RIP, Fred. You were always my comic hero. I was thrilled to work with you in Roxanne. https://t.co/IjSxCMESzt
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) 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
One of my favorite lines in a movie ever was delivered by Fred Willard in BEST IN SHOW, after a naughty dog went after the judge: “He went after her like she was made of ham.” This man was so brilliant and he elevated the flicks and TV shows in which he popped up. RIP, Funny Man! https://t.co/jEmDS0T9n8
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) May 16, 2020
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. Best in Show (7/11) Movie CLIP – Judging the Hounds (2000) HD https://t.co/wPrbk9VjWI via @YouTube
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) May 16, 2020