Fred Willard’s passing Friday night at 86 was met with great sadness by scores of Hollywood’s biggest names, who shared parting tributes to the comic actor best known for his work in “Best in Show,” “Anchorman” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
“There was no man sweeter or funnier,” Jimmy Kimmel tweeted. “We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”
There was no man sweeter or funnier. We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits https://t.co/joHM39o8k4
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 16, 2020
Christina Applegate, who starred alongside Willard in “Anchorman,” tweeted she was “gutted” by the news, adding that his “immense talent and kindness will never be forgotten.”
Gutted. His immense talent and kindness will never be forgotten. We love you Fred Willard. Thank you for the decades of laughter.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) May 16, 2020
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, whose husband Christopher Guest piloted several mockumentaries in which Willard starred, thanked Willard for providing “deep belly laughs,” while “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig called Willard “one of the funniest, nicest, sweetest, purest souls” he’d ever known.
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
Devastated to learn that the great Fred Willard has died. I was honored to have called him a friend. One of the funniest, nicest, sweetest, purest souls I have ever had the privilege to know. He was my hero from Fernwood Tonight when I was a kid. He was never not funny. RIP Fred.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) May 16, 2020
Judd Apatow, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean, among many others, also shared their memories of Willard. Shearer and McKean both worked with Willard on “This Is Spinal Tap,” Rob Reiner’s 1984 landmark mockumentary.
Just learned of Fred Willard's passing. Just about the funniest human ever to walk the planet. An amazing talent, in telekinetic contact with the very wellspring of comedy.
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet. https://t.co/JoLy6PVd9d
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 16, 2020
RIP Fred Willard ..you were incomparable
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) May 16, 2020
It was a privilege to have the great Fred Willard know my name. Rest In Peace Fred. You were funny in your bones. pic.twitter.com/PlFTCHFZCK
— Eric Stonestreet (@ericstonestreet) May 16, 2020
RIP to the legendary #FredWillard. The first time I worked with him ironically it was a table reading for a Drama/comedy play. I was still in The Groundlings in those days. He looked right in my eyes when we had dialogue. Basic but vital acting tip. Oh and funny as f**k????
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 16, 2020
Willard’s big break came in 1977 in Norman Lear’s satirical soap opera “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and its spinoffs “Fernwood 2 Night,” “Forever Fernwood” and “America 2-Night.” He later reunited with his “Mary Hartman” costar Martin Mull, when he recurred as his romantic partner and eventual husband on “Roseanne.”
In addition to his unforgettable role in “Spinal Tap,” Willard also appeared in a number of Guest’s ensemble films, including “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind” and “For Your Consideration.” He also had memorable roles in the two “Anchorman” films, “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 name just a few.
Here are a few other of the many tweets honoring the actor:
Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) May 16, 2020
— Dane Cook (@DaneCook) May 16, 2020