John Witherspoon, the comedic actor best known for his roles in the Friday movies and The Boondocks TV series, has died at the age of 77. Details about his death are still coming to light (at the time of writing this), but his Family has issued a statement to the press, in which they indicate that Witherspoon passed away at his home in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, and that his death was very much unexpected. In fact, many fans of Witherspoon were excited for the actor's upcoming slate of performances, which included a reboot of The Boondocks which is set to debut on the HBO Max Streaming Service.
Here is the statement that was issued by Witherspoon's family:
It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you “POPS” always & forever.
- The Witherspoon Family pic.twitter.com/ov9P34kaMn— John Witherspoon (@John_POPS_Spoon) October 30, 2019
“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 at the age of 77,” Witherspoon’s family said in a statement to Deadline. “He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. 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. John used to say ‘I’m no big deal’, but he was huge deal to us.”
John Witherspoon was born in Detroit Michigan in 1942, as one of eleven siblings. His family was involved in the entertainment industry, with his older brother William eventually writing the hit Motown song "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", and another brother, Cato, working as a director for PBS. John Witherspoon started off actually doing modeling work, before transitioning into comedy, for which he had clear passion. Working the comedy circuit put Witherspoon into contact with future big star like Tim Reid, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Robin Williams - comedians who had opened doors to TV and movies.
Witherspoon may have been best known for Friday and The Boondocks, but his fans know that his comedic influence extended much further than that. Aside from being a standup comedian until his death (with appearances still booked even now), Witherspoon's onscreen credits include cult classics like Hollywood Shuffle, Boomerang, Vampire In Brooklyn, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, House Party, and Soul Plane. He also stacked some big TV credits, including The Richard Pryor Show, The Incredible Hulk, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, and The Tracy Morgan Show, as well as modern hit series Black-ish, or cult-hit series like Black Dynamite and Black Jesus (the latter of which is currently airing a long-awaited new season). Witherspoon was arguably an entertainment icon, with signature catchphrases ("Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!"), and a one-of-a-kind voice and cadence. Witherspoon was so relevant that he even appeared in many skit segments of high-profile musical albums within the hip-hop community, including an appearance on Chance the Rapper's The Big Day LP, which was just released this summer.
In short: John Witherspoon was a prolific talent whose onscreen persona grew to be pretty iconic in its own right. RIP John Witherspoon, AKA "Pops". We extended our condolences to his family, friends, and many fans.