Second City alum, Modern Family actor Fred Willard dies at 86
Willard’s recurring role on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family as the fun-loving father of Phil Dunphy (played by Ty Burell) earned him his fourth Prime-Time Emmy nomination.
Beloved actor Fred Willard has died from natural causes. He was 86. His daughter Hope confirmed the death on Twitter, “It is with a heavy heart that I share the news 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. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”
An outstanding actor, Willard’s recurring role on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family as the fun-loving father of Phil Dunphy (played by Ty Burell) earned him his fourth Prime-Time Emmy nomination. The character, seen throughout the show’s 11-season run, died in an episode that aired in January.
The first three nominations honoured his performances as Amy’s (played by Monica Horan) tradition-minded father on Everybody Loves Raymond, where he was paired with Georgia Engel as his wife.
Before his death, he played the role of a father to a general in Space Force, a comedy series premiering May 29 on Netflix. Steve Carell, a fellow Second City alum who stars as the general, tweeted on Saturday (May 16) that Willard was “the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with.”
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, whose husband Christopher Guest, has worked extensively with Willard, wrote an Instagram tribute. "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."
His Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also paid tribute. "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.”
His death comes less than two years after his wife Mary died at 71. The pair had been married since 1968 and had one daughter.