US comedian Fred Willard passes away aged 86

US comedian Fred Willard passes away aged 86

Four-time Emmy award-winning comedian Fred Willard, who appeared in films including "Anchorman" and "This is Spinal Tap" and television shows such as "Modern Family," has died aged 86, his agent announced Saturday.

Fred Willard
Photo: Twitter/CTVNews

Tributes poured in for the actor, with long-time friend and fellow showbiz veteran Jamie Lee Curtis tweeting "Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard."


"Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man," tweeted actor Steve Carrell.


Willard himself had just paid homage to two other showbiz legends, singer Little Richard and fellow comedian Jerry Stiller, who also passed away this month.

Modern audiences knew Willard as the TV father of actor Ty Burrell's character Phil Dunphy on ABC's hit sitcom "Modern Family."


But his decades-long career saw him make audiences laugh in ensemble films such as "Waiting for Guffman," "A Mighty Wind" and "Best in Show."


Earlier audiences encountered him as Jerry Hubbard, sidekick to actor Martin Mull in the 70's talk show spoof "Fernwood Tonight."


Willard's stage career began when he moved to New York in the late 1950s.Ā 


His initial work included a production of "Desperate Hours" at a local YMCA, where he worked with future comedy partner Vic Grecco.Ā 


They later performed under the moniker Willard & Grecco in the Greenwich Village area.Ā 


The comedy duo found some success touring and made appearances on "The Dean Martin Show," "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," and "The Tonight Show."


Willard also had a recurring role as Hank MacDougall on the later seasons of CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond."


He was cast as a sportscaster in the television series "Back to You," which premiered on the Fox Network in 2007.


The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters presented Willard with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award at their celebrity luncheon in 2015.Ā  Ā Ā 


His agent, Mike Eisenstadt, did not specify the cause of Willard's death, nor his whereabouts at the time.


READ ALSO:Ā Actor and comedian Jerry Stiller dies at 92: son

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