Fred Willard Dies; Beloved Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family Actor Was 86


Fred Willard has died. 

The beloved comedy actor has died of natural causes. 

He was 86. 

“My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old,” his daughter, Hope, said in a statement.

“He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”

The actor was probably best known for his many roles in Christopher Guest’s films, alongside Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, and Eugene Levy.

He played an Air Force colonel in This Is Spinal Tap, travel agent/amateur actor Ron Albertson in Waiting for Guffman, announcer Buck Laughlin in Best in Show, and the music manager Mike LaFontaine in A Mighty Wind.

“A fond farewell to Mr. Fred Willard,” actress Jamie Lee Curtis, whose husband, Christopher Guest, has worked with Willard over the years, wrote in an Instagram tribute.

“How lucky we all are that we got to witness his great gifts. Thanks for the deep belly laughs. You are now with Mary. Home safe.”

Willard most recently starred in ABC’s Modern Family in the role of Frank. 

The series, which has now wrapped, killed off Frank earlier this year. 

Fred Willard

The role won Willard much praise, with the actor snagging an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series in 2010. 

His other TV credits include Back to You, The Bold and the Beautiful, Mad About You, Roseanne, and Fernwood 2 Night.

He is also attached to play Steve Carell’s dad on the Netflix series Space Force, which is slated to launch later this month. 

“A four-time Emmy nominee radiated a unique charm that established him as one of our generation’s most gifted comic actors,” Willard’s rep wrote in a tribute via Rolling Stone.


“A master of sketch comedy, Fred was most heralded for his quick wit and improvisational expertise, which he demonstrated in hundreds of appearances on stage, on the big screen, and on a wide range of television shows.”

Willard’s passing comes less than two years after his wife Mary died at 71. They were married since 1968 and shared one daughter together.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Fred Willard during this difficult time. 

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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