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RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: May 16, 2020 02:56PM
....at 86.....Friday night of natural causes.....he didn't look well his last appearances on 'Modern Family'.....


Fred Willard, Master of Comic Cluelessness, Dies at 86

The actor was great at improvisation and brilliantly amusing on 'Fernwood 2 Night,' 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and in Christopher Guest mockumentaries.

....Fred Willard, the clever comic actor who played clueless characters to perfection on Fernwood 2 Night, Everybody Loves Raymond and as a member of a great ensemble in several Christopher Guest mockumentaries, has died. He was 86.

Willard died Friday night in Los Angeles of natural causes, his agent Michael Eisenstadt told The Hollywood Reporter.

His daughter, Hope, said he passed "very peacefully … He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever."

Always amusing, Willard also elicited grins as station director Ed Harken in the two Anchorman films and as the voice of Shelby Forthright, the lone human in WALL-E (2008). He can be seen this month in a recurring role as Steve Carell’s dad on the Netflix series Space Force.

Willard received Emmy nominations in three consecutive years for portraying Hank MacDougall, the conservative father-in-law of Brad Garrett's Robert, on Everybody Loves Raymond, and more recently, he nabbed another one for playing Frank Dunphy, father of Ty Burrell's Phil, on Modern Family.

Willard was one of those actors who made you smile at first sight, and even his characters' names sounded funny: Mr. Stuffleby (from Wizards of Waverly Place), presidential assistant Feebleman (Buck Henry's First Family), Basil St. Mosely (The Wedding Planner), Mayor Deebs (Roxanne), Vincent Vanderhoff (Americathon), Vice Principal Mallet (Family Matters) and Sigvard Thorsten (Easy to Assemble).

Like Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy, Willard collaborated often with writer-director Guest on his comedies, which relied heavily on improvisation. His mind seemed to go a mile a minute.

"How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard's gifts," actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Guest's wife, wrote on Twitter.

He played an Air Force colonel in This Is Spinal Tap (1984), then was travel agent/amateur actor Ron Albertson in Waiting for Guffman (1996); dunderheaded announcer Buck Laughlin in Best in Show (2000); Mike LaFontaine, blond-haired manager of the New Main Street Singers, in A Mighty Wind (2003); and smarmy newsmagazine host Chuck Porter (supposedly modeled on Billy Bush) in For Your Consideration (2006).

Willard also appeared on the Guest TV shows Family Tree at HBO and Mascots at Netflix.

Years earlier, he worked with a bunch of puppets, playing a bartender (again as the only human) on the Sid & Marty Krofft syndicated series D.C. Follies.

In 1977, the good-natured Willard had a career breakthrough when he was cast on the late-night syndicated comedy Fernwood 2 Night, playing dimwitted talk show co-host and sidekick Jerry Hubbard opposite Martin Mull as Barth Gimble, late of Miami Beach.

The five-nights-a-week series, a spinoff of/summer-replacement series for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, was produced by Norman Lear and Alan Thicke. His Jerry got the gig on the small-market show because he was the brother-in-law of the owner of the Ohio cable-TV station. The music was provided by the band Happy Kyne and His Mirth Makers (fronted by the dour Frank De Vol).

The next summer, the show was rebranded America 2-Night and the setting switched to the fictional Northern California town of Alta Coma, which Jerry called "the unfinished furniture capital of the world" in his nightly introduction.

Willard said he had been up for a part in a series that was a parody of Star Wars and Star Trek and wanted that job. However, he "went in and we did a few run-throughs and I found Martin to be so funny and I had so much fun that after a few days I said, 'You know, I'm kind of enjoying this,' " he said in Robert Pegg's 2002 book, Comical Co-Stars of Television: From Ed Norton to Kramer.

Carol Burnett, Tom Waits, Burt Lancaster and other stars would come on America 2-Night as they were "passing through" Alta Coma while on vacation.

Willard teamed again with Mull in the 1988 film Portrait of a White Marriage and on the TV mockumentaries The History of White People in America and Lots of Luck, and they played a gay couple on Roseanne (in 1995, they had one of television's first gay weddings).

An only child, Frederick Charles Willard was born in Cleveland. His father died when he was about 12, and "that was quite tough," he said.

As a youngster raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, he was the class clown and dreamed of playing big-league baseball or working as a deejay. Midway through high school, his mother sent him to a military school outside Louisville, and Willard served in the U.S. Army for two years in Germany.

Afterward, he moved to New York, studied acting at the Showcase Theatre (in reality, it was an apartment in midtown) and formed a sketch comedy act with a fellow student, Vic Greco. They played clubs around the U.S. and made it to The Ed Sullivan Show in 1963 and The Steve Allen Show.

After splitting with Greco in the late 1960s — they were offered a job as regulars on The Carol Burnett Show, but Greco didn't want to do it — Willard joined Second City in Chicago, working for a year alongside the likes of David Steinberg and Robert Klein as he honed his improvisational skills.

He acted for director Alan Arkin in an off-Broadway production of Little Murders, then was a founding member of another improv group, Ace Trucking Company, which opened for Tom Jones in Las Vegas and did jokes on the singer's ABC variety show shot in London. (The troupe's other original members were George Memmoli, Michael Mislove, Bill "You Can Call Me Ray" Saluga and Patti Deutsch.)

Willard made his onscreen acting debut on a 1966 episode of the Western comedy Pistols 'n' Petticoats, appeared on Get Smart and other shows and played bumbling District Attorney Bud Nugent on the short-lived NBC sitcom Sirota's Court, starring Michael Constantine.

Willard also was one of the hosts on the 1980s NBC reality show Real People, executive produced by George Schlatter; hosted a 1978 installment of Saturday Night Live (he and Gilda Radner worked in a store that sold only Scotch tape); and was a regular on other series like Maybe It's Me starring Reagan Dale Neis, Norm MacDonald's A Minute With Stan Hooper and Back to You, starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton..........



RIP.............?!



_____________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2020 03:04PM by NewtonMP2100.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: May 16, 2020 03:16PM
One of those we all know by appearance, not necessarily by name --





“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 16, 2020 03:28PM
A hard-working comic bit-player, the guy popped everywhere on TV. Just Thursday, we happened to watch his guest appearance on a Stargate SG-1 episode from 2008ish. I remember him first from hosting "Real People" in the early 1980s.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: neophyte
Date: May 16, 2020 03:30PM
I thought Fernwood 2 Night and America Tonight were quite funny, but maybe it was the maryjane effect.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: Thrift Store Scott
Date: May 16, 2020 03:44PM
I'm sorry to see Mr. Willard go. He was always great at getting the "unintentional laugh", not by cracking an obvious joke but by unselfconsciously saying something totally "out there" in complete earnestness that everyone around him found either deeply disturbing or hilarious... my kinda humor.

In truth I'd been a bit worried about him of late because after looking exactly the same from when I first saw him on "Real People" in the 70s (not the 80s as stated in the quoted article) until relatively recently he'd started to look much older, but after finding out he was 86 I guess he was only starting to look the age he truly was.

Rest in peace, Mr. Willard. You will be missed.



Lie to me if you must, but don't lie to me and insult my intelligence in the same sentence.

Resist the Thought Police: George Orwell's book 1984 was meant as a warning, not an instruction manual.

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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: May 16, 2020 04:02PM
Quote
neophyte
I thought Fernwood 2 Night and America Tonight were quite funny, but maybe it was the maryjane effect.

Or, perhaps more accurately, the Mary Hartman effect.



It is what it is.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: May 16, 2020 04:06PM
Quote
Thrift Store Scott
In truth I'd been a bit worried about him of late because after looking exactly the same from when I first saw him on "Real People" in the 70s (not the 80s as stated in the quoted article)

Real People ran from April 1979 to July 1984. I'd call that the '80s and not the '70s.

[en.wikipedia.org]



It is what it is.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: May 16, 2020 04:35PM
I was at a Grammy party he was at. He was standing a little off to himself basically doing his schtick, riffing on things people said and things that just came into his mind. It was hilarious.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: May 16, 2020 04:47PM
Quote
neophyte
I thought Fernwood 2 Night and America Tonight were quite funny, but maybe it was the maryjane effect.

I had a chance to see a couple of live tapings of Fernwood 2night in high school. The most awesome teacher ever set it up as a field trip for our journalism class. It was no small deal being 400 miles round trip. Most of us were already huge fans of Mary Hartman and Fernwood 2Night.

Martin Mull was pretty reserved, but Fred Willard came out and hung out with the audience and did warm-ups himself pre-show. Someplace long ago I had an autographed 8x10. Rest in peace Fred.



“Live your life, love your life, don’t regret…live, learn and move forward positively.” – CR Johnson
Loving life in Lake Tahoe, CA



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2020 04:47PM by Markintosh.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: wave rider
Date: May 16, 2020 05:34PM
Gosh, he was fun. RIP…



=wr=
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: vision63
Date: May 16, 2020 06:14PM
He had a magnificent career. He always made you smile. With 312 film/tv credits to his name on IMDB, 'nuff said. It means everybody love him and wanted him on their projects.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: samintx
Date: May 16, 2020 06:29PM
No no he has been appearing on Kimmel etc lately. Will miss him.
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Re: RIP: Fred Willard [ actor/comedian ].....
Posted by: DP
Date: May 16, 2020 07:26PM
A fun guy. RIP.





Disclaimer: This post is checked for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Any attempts at humor are solely the responsibility of the author and bear no claim that any and all readers will approve or appreciate said attempt at humor.
My name is DP, and I approve this message.
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