Fred Willard, Comedy Legend and Four-Time Emmy Nominee, Dead at 86

Fred Willard Dead

Fred Willard, the Second City alum who delivered Emmy-nominated performances in Modern Family and Everybody Loves Raymond, has died of natural causes, reports THR. The actor was 86.

“My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old,” his daughter, Hope, said in a statement. “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 recurring guest performances became some of his most acclaimed and celebrated television work. On Everybody Loves Raymond, he portrayed Hank MacDougall, Robert’s conservative father-in-law, earning himself Emmy nominations for three consecutive years. He received another nomination in 2010 for his role in Modern Family as Frank Dunphy, Phil’s dad.

The actor was also renowned for his many zany roles in Christopher Guest’s films, alongside Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer and Eugene Levy, putting his quick-witted improv skills to the test. He played an Air Force colonel in This Is Spinal Tap, travel agent/amateur actor Ron Albertson in Waiting for Guffman, announcer Buck Laughlin in Best in Show, and the dyed-blonde music manager Mike LaFontaine in A Mighty Wind.

Other notable TV credits of Willard’s include Back to You, The Bold and the Beautiful, Mad About You, Roseanne and Fernwood 2 Night. This month, he can be seen in a recurring role as Steve Carell’s dad on the Netflix series Space Force.

“How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts. He is with his missed Mary now. Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard,” actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Guest’s wife, tweeted.