Comedy veteran and comedic actor John Witherspoon passed away early Tuesday morning at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 77.
"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,” the family said in a statement to deadline.com/
"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 first emerged on the stand-up comedy scene in the 1970s, when he also befriended some of the most popular comics of the era – including Eddie Murphy and Keenen Ivory Wayans.
After appearing alongside Wayans in Robert Townsend’s “Hollywood Shuffle,” Witherspoon became known for his performance in Murphy’s “Boomerang,” directed by East St. Louis’ own Reginald Hudlin.
He is perhaps best known for his roles in the “Friday” franchise alongside Ice Cube. The same year “Friday” opened in theatres, he made his television debut playing father to Shawn and Marlon Wayans on their WB Network show “The Wayans Brothers,” which ran from 1995-1999.
He also appeared on “The Tracy Morgan Show,” “Barnaby Jones,” “The Boondocks,” “Black Jesus,” and Townsend’s urban film classic “The Five Heartbeats.”
In between his film and television roles, he also toured regularly as a stand up comedian - visiting Helium Comedy Club earlier this summer.
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela Robinson and their two children, John David and Alexander Witherspoon.
John David took to Twitter following his dad's passing.
He wrote: "So...my Dad died today & honestly I'm not sure how to feel. I'm sad, but I'm also happy 4 all the great times we had together,” his son John David said via Twitter. “We'd roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol. Love U Dad...I'll miss u."
Information from Celebretainment.com contributed to this report.