Actor John Witherspoon, who played dad in 'Friday,' dies at 77

LOS ANGELES -- Comedic actor John Witherspoon, best known for his role as Ice Cube's father in the "Friday" movies, has died at age 77, his family confirmed Tuesday.

Witherspoon had a long career in stand-up comedy, television and movies dating back more than 40 years.

But he was best known for playing Willie Jones, the father of Ice Cube's character in the cult-hit comedy that spawned two sequels and an animated series.

Witherspoon's family tweeted: "It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you "POPS" always & forever."

Tributes began pouring in for the actor.

Ice Cube tweeted: "I'm devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won't be as funny without him."

The actor was born John Weatherspoon in Detroit but later changed his name to Witherspoon. He started as a standup comic but then landed guest roles on television in the 1970s, '80s and '90s on shows such as "WKRP In Cincinnati," "Hill Street Blues," and "The Wayans Bros."

He was known for playing over-the-top or outrageous characters as he broke into movies with roles in films such as "House Party," "Hollywood Shuffle" and "Vampire in Brooklyn."

But it was the surprise success of "Friday" that made him a familiar face to audiences as the film built on its cult status over the years.

Actress Regina King tweeted: "My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King."

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