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Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman actor Fred Willard is dead at 86

"Made you laugh from your gut." Michael McKean, Steve Carell, Rob Reiner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Harry Shearer and others react.


Fred Willard as Ed Harken in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

DreamWorks Pictures

Actor Fred Willard -- well known for appearing in numerous mockumentary-style movies, such as Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman -- died Friday of natural causes, his rep, Glenn Schwartz, confirmed Saturday.

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

Willard's performances in director Christopher Guest's mockumentary movies Waiting for GuffmanBest in Show, For Your Consideration and A Mighty Wind, as well as a small part in director Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap, made him a sought-out comedic actor

"So sad to hear about Fred Willard," Reiner tweeted on Saturday. "He was a brilliant satirist. Made you laugh from your gut. And the kindest of souls."

Other movies Willard starred in included Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, American Wedding, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. 

In addition to numerous films Willard appeared in during his 60-year career in entertainment, he also starred in the TV shows Modern Family, New Girl, Community, Hot in Cleveland, Roseanne, Sister Sister, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Everybody Loves Raymond, just to name just a few. He even starred in the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful

Willard also acted in animated TV shows and movies, including Wall-E, Kim Possible, Family Guy, The Loud House,  Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures, SuperMansion, TripTank, Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur, G.I. Joe: Renegades, Transformers: Animated, King of the Hill, and The Boondocks.

He'll appear posthumously as the character Fred Naird in the upcoming Netflix comedy series, Space Force.

"Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with," Willard's Space Force cast mate Steve Carell tweeted on Saturday. "He was a sweet, wonderful man."

Willard also guested as himself on many late night talk show sketches on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and  Saturday Night Live, MADtv, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and unusual comedy shows like Comedy Bang Bang.

More fellow actors and longtime friends posted their condolences and memories for the beloved comedic actor on Twitter.

Friend and fellow actor Michael McKean wrote, "I'm at a loss for words, a state Fred Willard never found himself in. My friend for 40+ years, a great comic actor who had no competition because there was only one of him. We were all so lucky. Goodbye, Fred."

"How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard's gifts," actor Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted on Saturday. "Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard." 

"Just learned of Fred Willard's passing," actor Harry Shearer tweeted. "Just about the funniest human ever to walk the planet. An amazing talent, in telekinetic contact with the very wellspring of comedy."

Even more actors, comedians, directors and fans of the actor posted their appreciations on Twitter.