Things We Saw Today: RIP Comedy Legend Fred Willard | The Mary Sue
Skip to main content

Things We Saw Today: RIP Comedy Legend Fred Willard

The hilarious and beloved character actor has passed away at 86.


fred willard

Veteran character actor and comedy legend Fred Willard has passed away from natural causes at the age of 86. Willard was a comedy mainstay, perhaps best known for his appearances in the films of Christopher Guest, such as Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind.

Willard also earned plenty of fans from his work on the cult television comedy Fernwood 2 Night, as well as his recurring role as Phil Dunphy’s father on Modern Family. Willard will also appear posthumously in the upcoming Netflix comedy series Space Force.

Fred Willard excelled in playing over-confident doofuses completely lacking in self awareness. He was the kind of actor that viewers were always delighted to see onscreen. If Fred Willard walked into frame, you just new you were going to laugh, no matter how brief his appearance was.

Willard’s career spanned over 50 years, and he appeared in cartoons, sitcoms, soap operas, talk shows, and reality television. Many friends and fans remembered him on social media:

  • Get your own DEVO-inspired face shield so you whip COVID-19. Whip it good. (via Nerdist)
  • Let’s make all the nerdy crafts, yeah? (via Syfy Wire)
  • Go behind the scenes of Netflix’s She-Ra final season. (via AVClub)
  • Clone Club! The cast of Orphan Black is reuniting for a charity live read Sunday night!
  • Graeme Manson discusses his Snowpiercer series, which premieres Sunday night. (via io9)
  • Congrats to Jonah Hill, who has sworn more onscreen than any other actor. (via Variety)
  • Timothy Olyphant (Justified) is joining season 2 of The Mandalorian. (via Collider)

Hope you’re having a safe Saturday, Mary Suevians!

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.