Actor and beloved comedian John Witherspoon passed away suddenly at his Sherman Oaks, California home on Tuesday, Oct. 29. He was 77.
Witherspoon’s family broke the sad news in a press statement to Deadline.com:
“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. 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.”
The family did not reveal Witherspoon’s cause of death.
The star of the hit comedy movie franchise Friday launched his standup comedy routines in the 1970s. He began his acting career in The Jazz Singer in 1980. His movie roles included memorable parts in Hollywood Shuffle, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Ladies Man and Fakin’ Da Funk.
— HAPPY HALLOWEEN ??? (@geminimoon) October 30, 2019
Witherspoon’s son, John David Witherspoon, shared an emotional tribute to his dad on Twitter:
“So… my Dad died today & honestly I’m not sure how to feel. I’m sad, but I’m also happy 4 all the great times we had together. We’d roast each other like homes more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & idol. Love U Dad… I’ll miss u.”
The comedian’s colleagues and fans also paid tribute to him on social media.
Rest In Peace John Witherspoon pic.twitter.com/65vFQeVgRA
— Dwa (@dwavocalz) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon resonated with every last one of us because he represented someone in our family: embarrassing us at gatherings (Boomerang), misrepresenting our generations heroes (“Public Enema”?!), making a jingle… https://t.co/n0jiWYUnIb
— Questlove from @SongsThatShook Oct 13th @AMC_tv (@questlove) October 30, 2019
One of the hardest parts about getting older is losing the icons you grew up watching. John Witherspoon knew how to make black people laugh, BANG BANG BANG! RIP Pops ?? pic.twitter.com/fiOxPQOShe
— Joshua Chenault (@joshuachenault1) October 30, 2019
Always was on time for interviews! always by himself with no security! Took every picture with every fan every time, always humble ,always hilarious ! R.I.P. John Witherspoon pic.twitter.com/1TrgItjTe6
— Ryan Cameron (@ryancameron) October 30, 2019
— KeithDavid (@ImKeithDavid) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon did something few actors and are ever able to do. He made generations of Black kids feel like he was their dad/uncle/grandfather without dating himself or talking down to the youth
It felt like a reunion when you saw him on screen.
RIP to an OG
— Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) October 30, 2019
“You got to cooooooordinate”
Sound style advice from John Witherspoon ?? pic.twitter.com/duUjxjFme0
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) October 30, 2019
"You win some, you lose some, but you live. You live to fight another day." In between the laughs from his comedic excellence in various roles, John Witherspoon taught a generation of black boys and black men some valuable lessons. RIP Pops. RIP Grandad. RIP King ?? pic.twitter.com/E5frVIRFMf
— ??Primetime!!!?? (@Joe_MainMixon) October 30, 2019
— Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) October 30, 2019
He then shook my hand & tipped me $100 for driving him 7 mins up the street. To this day, some of the best advice I ever received. You for sure loved the job. And for sure did the work & you were never a motherfcker
Rest well good sir. Condolences to entire #JohnWitherspoon fam
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) October 30, 2019