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Comedic Actor John Witherspoon Of ‘Friday’ Fame Dead At 77

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FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2009, file photo, John Witherspoon leaves a taping of "The Late Show with David Letterman" in New York. Actor-comedian Witherspoon, who memorably played Ice Cube’s father in the “Friday” films, has died at age 77. Witherspoon’s manager Alex Goodman confirmed late Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, that Witherspoon died in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
By Jade Walker
Black Voices

Comedic actor John Witherspoon, whose five decades in Hollywood included starring roles in the cult “Friday” film franchise and the popular TV series “The Wayans Bros.” and “The Boondocks,” has died. He was 77.

Witherspoon’s manager Alex Goodman confirmed late Tuesday that Witherspoon died in Los Angeles. No cause of death was released.

Although the Detroit native broke into the entertainment business as a stand-up comic in the 1960s, he would eventually rack up more than 80 acting credits during his career.

On the big screen, Witherspoon was best known for portraying Ice Cube’s father in the cult film “Friday” (1995) and its two sequels “Next Friday” (2000) and “Friday After Next (2002). He was slated to reprise the role in a fourth film titled “Last Friday,” which was still in pre-production.

“Life won’t be as funny without him,” Ice Cube said in a Twitter post late Tuesday, adding that he was devastated by news of Witherspoon’s death.

Witherspoon also appeared in the movies “House Party,” “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Bulworth.”

On television, he most memorably voiced the role of Granddad on “The Boondocks,” and played John “Pops” Williams on “The Wayans Bros.” Soon after word of his death reached social media, “RIP Pops” began trending.

Regina King, who appeared as Witherspoon’s daughter in “Friday” and also voiced both of his grandsons in the animated series “The Boondocks” called him her “comedic inspiration” on Twitter.

In between acting gigs, Witherspoon continued to hone his comedic talents with live appearances and was a frequent guest on “Late Show with David Letterman.” He was scheduled to perform a series of dates at the Stand Up Live comedy club in Huntsville, Alabama next month, CBS News reported.

Witherspoon and his wife Angela also created a charity to serve as a resource for artists who need short-term grants.

Actress Marsha Warfield, who co-starred in the hit TV comedy “Night Court,” praised his kindness and generosity.

“Spoon was a friend, a brother, a funny, talented comedian and a good man,” she wrote on Facebook. “He was the first comedian I met when I got to Los Angeles, and he never hesitated to share leads, advice, contacts, introductions or anything else.”

Witherspoon’s son, comedian J.D. Witherspoon tweeted that he was happy for all the great times he and his dad shared while sharing some candid photos.

“We’d roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol,” JD Witherspoon posted. “Love U Dad…I’ll miss u.”

The Associated Press contributed to this post.