The funnyman, Fred Willard, passed away on May 15, 2020. His daughter, Hope Mulbarger, released a statement. “My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old… We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.” Willard’s death was due to natural causes.
The Early Years
Willard was born on Sept. 18, 1939. He was known as the class clown growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. At the age of 12, his father passed away. Later on in life, Willard stated that it was a “quite tough” experience.
In the latter years of high school, he attended military school. After which he would serve in the army for two years. Willard spent those two years stationed in Germany. He moved to New York when he left the army. There he started to take up acting.
The Beginning of His Acting Career
Willard partnered with Vic Greco, creating a sketch comedy duo that toured clubs nationwide. In 1963, the pair was on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” finally making their way onto television. Several years later the duo split apart.
The next chapter in Willard’s life was joining the iconic comedy flagship located in Chicago, called Second City. The sketch comedian received his first TV role in 1966 when he was in “Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats.” In 1968, he married Mary Lovell. A year later, Lovell gave birth to their daughter.
Becoming a Famous Face
Willard formed a comedy troupe with George Memmoli, Bill Saluga, Michael Mislove, and Patti Deutsch called The Ace Trucking Company. The group guest-starred on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” 35 times between April 1969 and May 1975. The Ace Trucking Company was also on “The Dick Cavett Show,” “The Midnight Special,” and “The Mike Douglas Show.” They also had a regular spot on the series, “This Is Tom Jones.”
The well-known actor also appeared in “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Anchorman,” and “ Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” just to name a few of his numerous movies.
Man of Many Talents
The talented star also did the voice of a few characters in animated movies, such as, “Chicken Little” in 2005, and his favorite “Walle” in 2008. Willard stated in an interview that the studio seemed to try to “woo” him into doing “Walle.” When they told him they wanted to fly him to San Francisco to tour Pixar, he informed them his grandson was a huge fan. He was thrilled to work with a company his grandbaby enjoyed so much.
When “Walle” won an Academy Award for Best Animated Film he was ecstatic. “Pixar are such great people, and I thought it was such a wonderful message, that movie, for kids, without hitting them on the head about making the Earth a safe place and all.”
The beloved actor was also on other more recent shows, “Everyone Loves Raymond,” and “Modern Family.” Many former co-stars and fans went to social media to pay their respects for him. He is survived by his daughter, grandson, and various other family members. May he rest in peace.
By Sheena Robertson
Edited by Jeanette Vietti
CNN: Heartbroken comedy stars reflect on how Fred Willard inspired them
IMDB: Ace Trucking Company
Forbes: Prolific Comedic Actor Fred Willard Dead At 86
IMDB: Fred Willard
Tribute: Fred Willard
USA TODAY: Fred Willard, star of mockumentary ‘Best in Show,’ TV’s ‘Modern Family, dies at 86
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Sharon Graphics’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License