Fred Willard, Comic Actor Who Thrived in Ensembles, Dies at 86


Fred Willard, the Emmy Award-nominated comic actor best known for his scene-stealing roles in Christopher Guest ensemble comedies like “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman,” died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Mike Eisenstadt, Mr. Willard’s agent, confirmed the death.

Mr. Willard played Frank Dunphy, the father of Ty Burrell’s Phil Dunphy, on the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.” In 2010, his performance earned him a nomination for an Emmy as outstanding guest actor in a comedy series. Mr. Willard’s character died of old age in the show’s recently ended final season.

He was also nominated for Emmys in the same category in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for his role as the father of Ray Romano’s sister-in-law on another sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

He rose to prominence playing Jerry Hubbard, the sidekick to Martin Mull’s talk-show host Barth Gimble, on the satirical series “Fernwood Tonight” in 1977.

Beginning in 1992, Mr. Willard also made 50 appearances in sketches on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

A complete obituary will be published shortly.



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