Fred Willard: 5 Things To Know About Iconic Actor & Comedian Dead At 86

Fred Willard, a beloved actor who has been making audiences laugh out loud for decades, has died.

Fred Willard
View gallery
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Fred Willard, best known for his roles in the Christopher Guest mockumentary movies and in films like Anchorman and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, died on Friday, May 15. “It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old,” his daughter Hope announced on Twitter. “He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.” Jamie Lee Curtis, 61, and many others posted touching tributes to him in the wake of his death. “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now,” she wrote while bringing up his late wife who passed in 2018.

Here are 5 things you should know about the multi-talented entertainer:

1: Early Career. Fred’s life in showbiz began on the stage in the late 1950’s before he formed the comedy duo Willard & Grecco with partner Vic Grecco. The two made appearances on classic programs like The Dean Martin Show and The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour.

2: Big Break. Bigger audiences weren’t truly aware of Fred’s talents until the late 70’s when he starred on the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman spinoffs Fernwood 2 NightForever Fernwood, and America 2-Night. The world of sitcoms appeared to have run through his blood as he also made memorable appearances on Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family and many more.

3: The Envelope Please. Fred earned 3 Primetime Emmy nominations for his guest work on Everybody Loves Raymond and 1 for Modern Family as well. He also won a Daytime Emmy award in 2015 for Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series for his role on the long-running CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful.

Fred Willard
Beloved actor Fred Willard has died at the age of 86. Credit: Shutterstock

4: Make Em’ Laugh. His standout work in the Christopher Guest films like Waiting For Guffman and A Mighty Wind earned Fred a ton of critical acclaim. He is also appearing in the upcoming television series Space Force that costars fellow funny guy Steve Carrell. It is set to premiere on Netflix on May 29.

5: Longtime Love. Fred and his wife Mary were married for forty years prior to her death. Hope is the only child they shared together as a couple.

More From Our Partners