- Publish Date
- Thursday, 31 October 2019, 12:10PM
Comedy actor John Witherspoon has died aged 77.
Witherspoon, who is best-known for playing Willie Jones in the 'Friday' film franchise - passed away at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, on Tuesday with his family describing the comedian as "one of the hardest working men in show business".
In a statement given to Deadline, the family said: "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.
"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.
He subsequently starred in the 1995 movie 'Friday', alongside the likes of Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, as well as its sequels, 'Next Friday' and 'Friday After Next'.
Other movie roles included appearances in 'Hollywood Shuffle', 'Boomerang' and 'Vampire In Brooklyn', which also featured Eddie Murphy.
Elsewhere, Witherspoon played the father to Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans on the popular sitcom 'The Wayans Bros', which ran from 1995 until 1999.
The comedy star also appeared on 'The Tracy Morgan Show', 'Barnaby Jones', 'The Boondocks', 'The Five Heartbeats' and 'Black Jesus'.
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela Robinson and their two children, John David and Alexander.
John David took to Twitter following his dad's passing to express his sense of loss.
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. 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."