Joel Riley

Joel Riley

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Fred Willard dies

Fred Willard, beloved for his roles both big and small, has died at age 86 of natural causes. The comic actor who specialized in playing clueless characters and was noted for his improvisational skills, and rose to fame as part of Christopher Guest’s troupe of actors.

Willard’s agent Michael Eisenstadt told The Hollywood Reporter that he died Friday night in L.A. of natural causes.

His daughter, Hope Mulbarger, said he passed "very peacefully … He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever." 

Willard snagged Emmy nominations for three consecutive years for playing Hank MacDougall, Robert’s (Brad Garrett) father-in-law on Everybody Loves Raymond, then again for his role as Frank Dunphy on Modern Family.

He also performed memorable roles in Waiting for Guffman,This Is Spinal Tap,Best in Show,A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Celebs took to Twitter to share their grief.

Jamie Lee Curtis, who is married to director Guest, posted: “A fond farewell to Mr. Fred Willard. How lucky we all are that we got to witness his great gifts. Thanks for the deep belly laughs. You are now with Mary. Home safe."

Steve Carell wrote: "Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man." 

Eric Stonestreet tweeted: "It was a privilege to have the great Fred Willard know my name. Rest In Peace Fred. You were funny in your bones."

Steve Martin called him his “comic hero.”

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