Comedian and actor Anthony Johnson, who played Ezal in Friday and also appeared in House Party, has died. Johnson was 55 years old. Johnson's representative, LyNea Bell, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter but provided no information on the cause of Johnson's death. "We lost an icon. He will be greatly missed," Bell told THR. Johnson's nephew tells TMZ that he "was found lifeless in a store earlier this month in Los Angeles and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead." Johnson, who sometimes was credited as "A.J. Johnson," also had roles in Menace II Society, B*A*P*S, How to Be a Player, Hot Boyz, and Lethal Weapon 3, as well as the I Got the Hook-Up series of movies.
Johnson's television credits include appearances on such programs as Martin, The Bold and the Beautiful, Def Comedy Jam, South Central, The Parent 'Hood, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Malcolm & Eddie. He also appeared in music videos, including playing a parody of Eazy-E called Sleazy-E in Dr. Dre's "Dre Day" music video in 1992. He played the role again in Eazy-E's 1993 music video for "Real Muthaphuckkin G's."
Johnson hailed from Compton California. He worked as a stand-up comedian until he got his big break in 1990 playing E.Z.E. in Kid 'n Play's House Party. He returned in the second sequel, House Party 3. Johnson's most famous role is likely Ezal in the 1995 comedy Friday, acting alongside Chris Tucker and Ice Cube.
Johnson has been trending on Twitter since the news of his death broke on Monday morning. Fans have been tweeting out tributes and some of their favorite clips of Johnson in action.
Musician Michael Christmas tweeted out, "RIP AJ Johnson dawg that man made me laugh so many times in my life. I think my sleeper favorite role is the ex-con catering service in house party 3." Music producer Swift D tweeted that Johnson was "Hands down one of the funniest dudes EVER.
One fan tweeted, "RIP Anthony Johnson a.ka. AJ Johnson. He was a funny comedian and has been in a lot of memorable roles. Remember he was Shenana boyfriend La Fonne on Martin." Another tweeted, "Damn I just watched Friday yesterday and was counting all the actors that passed away …. Today we lost another one…. Ezal was legendary character.. Glo in peace AJ Johnson…"
Information on Johnson's next of kin is not immediately available. A GoFundMe was launched to support his children and grandchildren.