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Fred Willard, Comic Actor in ‘Modern Family,’ Dies at 86

Fred Willard, comedic actor finest recognized for “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman,” and, most just lately as Phil Dunphy’s father on “Modern Family,” died Friday night time of pure causes. He was 86.

“My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old. He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end,” his daughter Hope Mulbarger mentioned in an announcement. “We loved him so very much!”

Willard was a grasp at taking part in characters who weren’t the brightest of bulbs, a feat he perfected in Rob Reiner’s “This Is Spinal Tap,” together with a variety of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, together with “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind” and “For Your Consideration.”

Guest’s spouse, Jamie Lee Curtis, introduced Willard’s passing on Twitter, 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.” (His spouse of 50 years, Mary Lovell, handed away in 2018.)

The Ohio native broke into present enterprise within the late 1950s when he met his future comedy accomplice Vic Grecco whereas performing a manufacturing of “Desperate Hours” at an area YMCA in New York. As the crew of Willard & Grecco, they appeared on quite a few selection present reveals, together with “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and “The Tonight Show.”

After making his big-screen debut within the 1967 exploitation movie “Teenage Mother,” Willard joined the famed improvisational theater troupe Second City, Chicago, and have become a founding member of the Ace Trucking Company.

His large break got here in ’77 when he earned the function announcer Jerry Hubbard on Norman Lear’s satirical cleaning soap opera “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and its spinoffs “Fernwood 2 Night,” “Forever Fernwood” and “America 2-Night.” Willard later reunited together with his “Mary Hartman” costar Martin Mull, when he recurred as his romantic accomplice and eventual husband on “Roseanne.”

In addition to showing in a number of of Guest’s ensemble mock-documentaries, Willard memorable roles within the two “Anchorman” movies, “Silver Streak,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and “Fifty Shades of Black,” to call only a few.

He additionally hosted “Saturday Night Live,” had recurred on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” sits on the record of well-known voices that may be heard on “The Simpsons,” and received a Daytime Emmy for his work on the CBS cleaning soap “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

“I’m at a loss for words, a state Fred Willard never found himself in. My friend for 40+ years, a great comic actor who had no competition because there was only one of him. We were all so lucky. Goodbye, Fred,” Willard’s frequent co-star and longtime buddy Michael McKean mentioned Saturday afternoon.

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