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‘Friday’ star John Witherspoon dead at 77; celebrities salute him

Comedic actor John Witherspoon (Image source: Instagram – @johnnywitherspoon)

Comedic actor John Witherspoon, who soared to fame as “Pops” in Ice Cube’s classic Friday franchise, as well as “Boondocks” and Boomerang, died suddenly in suburban Los Angeles. He was 77.

According to the family statement on Witherspoon’s Instagram page and Deadline, John Witherspoon reportedly died suddenly on the night of Oct. 29, 2019, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, about 20 minutes northwest of L.A. He is survived by his wife, Angela, and sons JD and Alexander.

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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

A post shared by John "POPS" Witherspoon (@johnnywitherspoon) on

No word yet on what Witherspoon specifically died from. But news of his passing hit the entertainment world hard, as the likes of Ice Cube indicated that there is now a void in his soul that cannot be replaced.

Witherspoon was born in Detroit in 1942. He came up in the game much like other comedic actors — honing his act on stage — before graduating to the big and small screen. He made his television debut in the late 1970s with a series of guest roles. He made his feature debut in the 1980 film The Jazz Singer before going on to giving audiences a string of unforgettable performances, including Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle, Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang and Vampire in Brooklyn; the Wayans Brothers’ I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, Soul Plane, Little Man, House Party and The Meteor Man.

Witherspoon was also famous for his voiceover role of the curmudgeon grandfather in the highly-successful “Boondocks” series.

But Witherspoon was perhaps best known for his role as the hilariously grumpy father of Ice Cube’s Craig character in the classic Friday movie franchise that also featured fellow comedians Chris Tucker, Mike Epps and Katt Williams. After appearing in the sequels Next Friday and Friday After Next, Witherspoon was expected to reprise his role in the fourth and final installment of the franchise, Last Friday.

Celebrities from across the entire spectrum of entertainment immediately began pouring in love, praises and condolences regarding this great loss.