Comedic Actor Fred Willard Dead at 86

The celebrated actor, best known for his roles in Christopher Guest films, died of natural causes. His daughter Hope Mulbarger confirmed the tragic news.

Fred Willard

Image via Getty/Emma McIntyre

Fred Willard

Beloved comedic actor Fred Willard has died of natural causes at the age of 86. His daughter Hope Mulbarger confirmed the tragic news Saturday in a statement to Rolling Stone.

"My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old," she said. "He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end.We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever."

Willard began his acting career in the late 1950s, when he started appearing in New York City stage productions and landing comedy gigs on television programs like The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and The Tonight Show. Over the following decades, Willard would amass a long list of big and small-screen credits, starring in films like How High, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Epic Movie, and WALL-E, as well as TV shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Everybody Hates Chris, Community, and Modern Family. Willard played Frank Dunphy —the father of Ty Burrell's Phill Dunphy — in the latter series, a role that earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010. Five years later, he would win a Daytime Emmy for his role as John Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Willard was most known, however, as a staple in Christopher Guest mockumentaries, appearing in This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, and Mascots. Guest's wife, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, was among the Hollywood figures who paid tribute to Willard on social media, sharing an iconic scene from 2000's Best in Show, in which he played TV commentator Buck Laughlin.

You can read some of the other tributes for Willard below.

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