Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, best known for his role in the Friday movie franchise, died at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday. He was 77.
“It is with deepest sorrow that we can confirm our beloved husband and father, John Witherspoon, one of the hardest working men in show business, died today at his home in Sherman Oaks at the age of 77,” Witherspoon’s family said in a statement to NBC News.
“He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. We are all in shock, please give us a minute for a moment in privacy and we will celebrate his life and his work together. John used to say ‘I’m no big deal’, but he was huge deal to us.”
It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you “POPS” always & forever.
– The Witherspoon Family pic.twitter.com/ov9P34kaMn
— John Witherspoon (@John_POPS_Spoon) October 30, 2019
Witherspoon launched his stand-up comedy career in the late 1970s and went on to star in hit films and television shows including The Jazz Singer, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, and “The Wayans Bros.,” in which he played John “Pops” Williams. His most notable role was the father figure Mr. Jones alongside Ice Cube in 1995’s Friday and the sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
He was also a voice actor in the animated series “The Boondocks” and appeared on “The Tracy Morgan Show.”
Witherspoon’s fans, friends, and co-stars took to social media to mourn his death. “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him,” tweeted Ice Cube, while Marlon Wayans added, “I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already.”
Others including T.I., Lizzo, and Chance the Rapper also expressed their condolences. “Glad I had a chance to get to know you King. You’re truly one of the funniest most genuine people anyone could ever meet. Rest easy and God bless your transition,” wrote Tip, while Chance added, “God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow.”
See more celebrity reactions below.
I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him. pic.twitter.com/gtmiZiEppP
— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 30, 2019
🎤 This day began with such joy.
And it’s ending with this heart wrenching news of John Witherspoon’s passing. One of our comic brothers. 🌹 RIP pic.twitter.com/efSqqw6BHJ
— Arsenio Hall (@ArsenioHall) October 30, 2019
I’m so sad, I loved pops!! RIP to one of the greats will miss you John Witherspoon damn I’m sad pic.twitter.com/TaYWU4mSN4
— Leslie Jones 🦋 (@Lesdoggg) October 30, 2019
My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King pic.twitter.com/U6GsNrrKXF
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) October 30, 2019
View this post on Instagram
I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already. Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart. Anyone that knows me knows how much i love pops. You have a strong wife and great kids. What an amazing family. Your boys damn near grew up on the #WayansBros set they’ll always be like my little brothers and sons. i will pass on all the jewels that you bestowed on to us. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set. You got “all the keys 🔑 “ and i know you got one to heaven’s gate. Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry. I miss already…. hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on. “Pops pops sugar pops”. #ripjohnwitherspoon #mysecondpops
Glad I had a chance to get to know you King. You’re truly one of the funniest most genuine people anyone could ever meet. Rest easy and God bless your transition. 🙏🏽👑 #RIPSpoon pic.twitter.com/perjEIvEd9
— T.I. (@Tip) October 30, 2019
God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon. Wow. pic.twitter.com/2wUBXglzSW
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) October 30, 2019
I’m not gon lie I’m still sad about Pops… but I gotta do promo 😓
— Feelin Good As Hell (@lizzo) October 30, 2019