Fred Willard died of natural causes at age 86

By Ally Mauch
May 16, 2020 03:55 PM
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John Shearer/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Fred Willard’s fellow stars are remembering the iconic comedian following news of his death. He was 86.

Jamie Lee Curtis posted a tribute to the late actor on her Instagram page Saturday morning. Curtis’ husband, director Christopher Guest, worked with Willard on several films, including Best in Show and For Your Consideration.

“A fond farewell to Mr. Fred Willard,” the actress wrote alongside a photo of Willard acting in Best in Show. “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.”

Actor Henry Winkler also posted in honor of Willard, writing on Twitter, “RIP Fred Willard... you were incomparable.”

Willard’s Modern Family costar, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, tweeted: “Rest In Peace sweet @Fred_Willard. You will always be a true original and I am so honored that our lives intersected. No one will ever come close to replacing your genius.”

Fred Willard

Willard died on Friday of natural causes at age 86, a rep for the actor confirmed to PEOPLE. His acting credits include This Is Spinal Tap, Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family.

"My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old. He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end," his daughter Hope said in a statement. "We loved him so very much!"

“Fred Willard could not have been funnier. He was pure joy. And the sweetest person you could ever meet,” director Judd Apatow added in his own tweet.

Phil Rosenthal, the creator, writer and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, shared a photo of Willard, who starred on the show as Hank MacDougall from 1996 to 2005.

“Our beloved friend and one of the world’s funniest people has passed,” Rosenthal wrote alongside the photo. “Rest In Peace Fred. We all love you.”

“There was no man sweeter or funnier,” Jimmy Kimmel said in his tribute post. “We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”

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

Christina Applegate shared that she was "gutted," adding "His immense talent and kindness will never be forgotten. We love you Fred Willard. Thank you for the decades of laughter."

Actor Chris O'Dowd commented on Willard's talent for comedy, writing "Among many things, Fred Willard taught me not to be afraid to turn up to a scene with your own joke props. Or indeed material. What an incredibly funny man. Rest well Fred."

Willard's death comes less than two years after his wife Mary died at 71. The pair had been married since 1968 and had one daughter.

He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Hope and Mitch Mulbarger, as well as his grandson Freddie.