Fred Willard, the comic actor dies at 86

Fred Willard, the comic actor dies at 86
Fred Willard, the comic actor dies at 86

Fred Willard, an Emmy-nominated comic actor best known for stealing roles in Christopher Guest comedy such as "Best in Show" and "Waiting for Guffman", died Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old.

Mr Willard's agent, Mike Eisenstadt, confirmed the death.

Willard played the role of Frank Dunphy, the father of Ty Burrell's Phil Dunphy in the ABC comedy film "Modern Family". In 2010, his performance earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy. Mr. Willard's character died of old age in the show's final season, which recently concluded.

This was his fourth Emmy nomination. He was nominated in the same category in 2003, 2004 and 2005, including the CBS comedy "Everybody Loves Raymond". In 2015, Mr. Willard won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Artist for his work in the CBS soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful".

Willard made his first television appearance in "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964.

He became famous in the satire series "Fernand Tonight" in 1977, playing the role of Jerry Hubbard, partner of Martin Mull interview presenter Bertha Gimble.

In later years, he became known as the King of Deadpoint Cameo.

At the beginning of his career, he was a member of the improvisation group Second City and Ace Trucking Company. It later appeared in episodes of "Love, American Style", "Murphy Brown" and many other television programs.

Beginning in 1992, Mr. Willard produced 50 sketches on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno".

His role in Christopher guest films, comedy in which all dialogues were improvised, notably "Best in Show" (2000) included a faux television announcer in a dog competition.

Recently, Eisenstadt said, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel had asked Mr. Willard to make sketches on his show every two weeks until the order to stay indoors went into effect.

Later this month, Willard will appear in the Netflix series "Space Force" as Steve Carol's father.

Mr. Willard's survivors include a daughter, Hope Willard. His wife, writer Mary Willard, died in 2018.

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