Beloved ‘Friday’ Actor-Comedian John Witherspoon Dies Aged 77

October 30, 2019 Updated: October 30, 2019

American actor and comedian John Witherspoon has died at the age of 77, his family and manager confirmed on Oct. 29.

The actor, who was well-known for his role as Ice Cube’s father in the “Friday” films, died in Los Angeles, his manager Alex Goodman confirmed late Tuesday.

“He was a legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years,” his family wrote on his Twitter account.

“We love you “POPS” always & forever.”

Witherspoon’s prolific career included roles in the television series “The Wayans Bros,” and voicing the grandfather in “The Boondocks” animated series. He also starred in the films “Boomerang” and “Vampire in Brooklyn,” and in 1980’s “The Jazz Singer.”

The beloved actor, born in Detroit in 1942, took on a memorable role as Ice Cube’s father in the hit 1990s comedy and its two sequels “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next,” in which he portrayed a crude but affectionate father trying to guide his son to be better.

Ice Cube posted on his Twitter account in the early hours of Oct. 30 to say how “devastated” he was by Witherspoon’s passing.

“Life won’t be as funny without him,” he wrote.

Regina King, who appeared as Witherspoon’s daughter in “Friday” and also voiced both of his grandsons in the animated series “The Boondocks,” called him her “comedic inspiration” on Twitter.

He is survived by his wife, Angela Robinson-Witherspoon and sons JD and Alexander.

Actor John Witherspoon, wife and son
Actress Angela Robinson and actor John Witherspoon with their son at the Mann Village Theatre and Mann Bruin Theatre in Westwood, California, on Dec. 7, 2006. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

In a statement to Deadline on Tuesday, his family said they are in shock over his passing.

“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.”

“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,” she statement read.

“John used to say ‘I’m no big deal,’ but he was huge deal to us.”

JD Witherspoon wrote on Twitter that although he is saddened by his father’s death, he is happy for “all the great times we had together.”

“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,” he wrote.

“We’d roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol. Love U Dad…I’ll miss u.- J.D.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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