Remembering Fred Willard: Tributes and Some Classic Scenes

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Fred Willard in 2003’s A Mighty Wind

Although he was never what you would call a movie star, actor Fred Willard always made the films he was in better. And he was in a lot of them. The veteran actor died on May 15, 2020, at age 86.

Willard was part of Christopher Guest’s large repertory company for such films as Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. The comic actor was also in Rob Reiner’s classic mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, plus part of the great ensemble cast in the Anchorman films. TV viewers enjoyed watching him in such series as Fernwood 2 Night. Willard had a recurring role in the 2020 Netflix comedy series, Space Force.

When the news arrived of his passing, many of his co-stars paid tribute to the actor. Guest’s wife, Jaime Lee Curtis, wrote, “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts.” Steve Carell called Willard “the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with.”

Michael McKean wrote in part, “I’m at a loss for words, a state Fred Willard never found himself in.”

Filmmaker Judd Apatow wrote, “Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet.”

Penn Jillette called Willard’s acting “Genius.”

Watch Willard judging the hounds in Best in Show

“We are such fans of your music… and all of your records… I’m not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre…”

Related: Another classic scene from This is Spinal Tap

“Hey, wha’ happened?”

Watch a scene with the great ensemble cast of Anchorman

Willard was born Sept. 18, 1933.

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Frost
    #1 Frost 19 September, 2022, 14:07

    Loved his bits on tonight show with Jay Leno.

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  2. Rick
    #2 Rick 16 May, 2023, 15:24

    Absolutely one of the funniest comedic actors to ever grace the screen. I remember first seeing Fred Willard with the Ace Trucking Company on Johnny Carson. Then with Martin Mull on Fernwood Tonight. His delivery and insights were hysterical.

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  3. 122intheshade
    #3 122intheshade 21 September, 2023, 12:45

    He was great as the timeshare huckster on “Married, With Children”.

    “Is that the new Big ‘Uns? I had a letter published there last month.”

    Priceless. As the story says, he didn’t wink or smile ala Benny Hill. He let the audience figure it out.

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