“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,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
Witherspoon was known for his hilarious takes on father-figure characters in a number of movies and TV shows such as 1995’s Friday, where he played Ice Cube’s dad; he continued this role in Next Friday and Friday After Next. Witherspoon also played John “Pops” Williams on the sitcom The Wayans Bros., “Spoon” on NBC’s The Tracy Morgan Show and voiced Robert Jebediah “Grandad” Freeman in The Boondocks. He was also recently featured on Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day album.
Many of Witherspoon’s friends and colleagues expressed their condolences via social media. “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him,” Ice Cube wrote on Twitter. Marlon Wayans also shared to Instagram, “I’m sad. Broken. Hurt… yet extremely grateful to God that I got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving men. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set.” Find some of the tributes below.
I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him. pic.twitter.com/gtmiZiEppP
— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 30, 2019
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
View this post on Instagram
I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already. Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart. Anyone that knows me knows how much i love pops. You have a strong wife and great kids. What an amazing family. Your boys damn near grew up on the #WayansBros set they’ll always be like my little brothers and sons. i will pass on all the jewels that you bestowed on to us. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set. You got “all the keys ? “ and i know you got one to heaven’s gate. Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry. I miss already…. hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on. “Pops pops sugar pops”. #ripjohnwitherspoon #mysecondpops
My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King pic.twitter.com/U6GsNrrKXF
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon had all the quotables. RIP to a real one.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) October 30, 2019
Fuckkkk RIP John Witherspoon! Lots of laughs cuz of ya ??
— Cozz (@cody_macc) October 30, 2019
Oh man, so sorry to hear about John Witherspoon. A great comic and a class act. Years ago, I had the privileged of working with him and not only was his act hilarious but he would also kill by dropping one of his many unforgettable movie quotes. #RIPJohnWitherspoon #coordinate pic.twitter.com/XsO71EKnGw
— Matt “Nickname” Knudsen (@mattknudsen) October 30, 2019
its a fucking john witherspoon marathon at the crib on my fucking momma
— Demetrius (@DemetriusHarmon) October 30, 2019
Rest In Peace, John Witherspoon.
— quinta brunson (@quintabrunson) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon forever ❤️
— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) October 30, 2019