The world has lost so many good people during this time, especially yesterday when acclaimed actor and comedian Fred Willard, best known for Best in Show, the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, and many smaller roles in multiple films and television shows (i.e. Anchorman, Roseanne) died at the age of 86. His daughter, Hope Willard shared the news of passing earlier this morning (via Twitter):
Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio on September 18, 1933, he went onto graduate from the Kentucky Military Institute in 1951 and the Virginia Military Institute in 1955 where he was stationed in Germany for the United States Army. Towards the late 50’s, his acting career began when he moved to New York and met his comedy partner Vic Grecco, eventually finding some success while touring together, and on late night television (i.e. The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show). Even though they were both offered roles in the series Get Smart and The Carol Burnett Show issues in management and Grecco department led to the break up of the team in 1968. Following the break up, Willard married his wife Mary Lovell in 1968, later having their daughter Hope (1969) who had their grandson Freddie in 1997. The comedian really got his start on the NBC series Real People in 1979 going onto host the talk shows What’s Hot, What’s Not in 1985 and Access America in 1990, receiving a daytime Emmy nomination for the former for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
Following that he starred as Leon Carp in the series Roseanne and Buck Laughlin in the film Best in Show, which garnered him numerous awards including one from the Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC) and a tribute from the American Film Institute (AFI). Soon after that, Willard landed himself a recurring role as Hank MacDougall on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, receiving a few Emmy Award nominations in from 2003 to 2005. After co-staring on the animated show Family Guy, and the films Monster House, and Wall.e., he played Phil Dunphy’s father, Frank Dunphy on the sitcom Modern Family, where he received another Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010. He has also co-starred on the series That 70’s Show, Friends and The Simpsons. His final television appearance will be in the upcoming Netflix comedy series Space Force, where he will play the Secretary of Defense “Fred Naird”. His performances have inspired countless others and he will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and his many fans.