Friday actor John Witherspoon has died at the age of 77, his family has confirmed.
The actor, who is best known for starring as Willie Jones in Ice Cube’s comedy franchise, passed away at his California home.
His family confirmed in a statement: “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.
“He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. 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 a huge deal to us.”
A message on his Twitter page added: “It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever.”
Ice Cube, who starred alongside Witherspoon as his son Craig in the Friday movies, wrote on Twitter: “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him.”
Chance The Rapper wrote: “God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow.”
Public Enemy’s Chuck D, meanwhile, described him as a “funny man”.
Witherspoon’s big break came back in the late 1970s, after he started a successful stand-up career. He went on to secure appearances on The Richard Pryor Show, as well as significant roles in The Incredible Hulk, Good Times and Hill Street Blues.
He first teamed up with Ice Cube on 1995’s Friday, a role he later reprised in Next Friday, Friday After Next and he was due to play once again in Last Friday.
He also provided the voice of Gramps in animated show The Boondocks from 2005-2014, which is currently being revived for HBO ahead of its return next year.