John Witherspoon, a prolific actor and comedian who made audiences laugh through his work on television and in films, including the Friday franchise, has died. He was 77.
Witherspoon passed away Tuesday at his home in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, his family said in a statement posted on the actor’s official Twitter account.
“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,” the statement read. “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 a huge deal to us.”
Witherspoon was born in Detroit in 1942 as John Weatherspoon. He got his start in stand-up comedy in the 1960s, and soon made the transition to television and films, frequently working with Robert Townsend, Reginald Hudlin, Ice Cube, and Master P.
Among his many film credits were I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), House Party (1990), Boomerang (1992), The Meteor Man (1993), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), I Got the Hook Up (1998), Little Nicky (2000), and I Got the Hook Up 2 (2019).
On television, he played “Pops” on The Wayans Brothers, and more recently co-starred as “Lloyd” on Adult Swim’s Black Jesus. He also had roles on The Tracy Morgan Show and The First Family.
But the comic actor was perhaps best known for his scene-stealing performances as Mr. Jones, Ice Cube’s dog catcher dad, in Friday, Next Friday and Friday After Next alongside Cube, Chris Tucker and Mike Epps. He was expected to reprise his role in the final installment of the franchise titled Last Friday.
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large extended family.