R.I.P. John Witherspoon of Barnaby Jones, The Wayans Bros. and more
The Friday actor passed away at 77.
Image: Everett Collection
Actor-comedian John Witherspoon died on Tuesday evening. In a statement made to Deadline, Witherspoon's family shared, "[Witherspoon] used to say 'I’m no big deal,' but he was a huge deal to us."
Many know Witherspoon from his longtime role on The Wayans Bros. as John "Pops" Williams, the dysfunctional family patriarch and owner of the diner near his sons' newsstand. Witherspoon's other popular TV work is that on the adult animated show The Boondocks, which has gained and maintained a cult following since its premiere in 2005. The Boondocks follows the lives of young brothers Huey and Riley Freeman while they live with their grandfather, Robert Jebediah "Grandad" Freeman (Witherspoon). On the big screen, he was best known as Willie in the 1995 stoner comedy Friday.
Witherspoon launched his career in comedy and television starting in the late 1970s. Within those first few years of work, he appeared as a guest star in multiple shows that many still adore.
In the Barnaby Jones episode "School of Terror," Witherspoon played a camp counselor for drug-addicted youth. You see him at the very beginning of the episode dishing some tough love to his campers.
Soon after this, he then popped up on Hill Street Blues playing a businessman who couldn't make up his mind about a hot dog.
At the age of 77, he was still an avid performer and worked regularly. Witherspoon passed away unexpectedly in his home on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.