Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, who appeared in 'Friday,' dies at 77

His career, which included roles in the "Friday" franchise and “The Boondocks" animated series, spanned decades.

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By Diana Dasrath and Phil Helsel

Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, a notable figure in the "Friday" franchise and voice actor in the animated series “The Boondocks," died at his home Los Angeles Tuesday at the age of 77, his 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 at the age of 77," Witherspoon's family said in a statement to NBC News.

"He is survived by his wife Angela, and his sons JD, Alexander, and a large family. 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 was born in Detroit in 1942 as John Weatherspoon and launched a stand-up and comedy career that began in the late 1970s with television roles, according to the online news site Deadline, which reported Witherspoon's death earlier Tuesday evening.

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He appeared in 1980's "The Jazz Singer." He starred as John "Pops" Williams in "The Wayans Bros." television show and as Mr. Jackson in “Boomerang,” among many other film and TV roles.

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Witherspoon played the father figure Mr. Jones alongside Ice Cube in the 1995 hit "Friday" and reprised his role in sequels "Next Friday" and "Friday After Next."

Witherspoon also appeared in the 1995 Eddie Murphy film "Vampire in Brooklyn," in which he played Silas Green, and in the 1988 film "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." He also was a voice actor in the animated series “The Boondocks.”

He also appeared on "The Tracy Morgan Show" and more recently played Lloyd in the "Black Jesus" television series, according to film database IMDB.

The comedian Sinbad was among those mourning Witherspoon’s death Tuesday night, tweeting that the actor and comedian was an inspiration and "one of my early heroes and a beautiful person." Arsenio Hall said it was "heart wrenching news" and called Witherspoon "one of our comic brothers."

Oscar-winning actress and director Regina King tweeted: "My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King."

Director and producer Judd Apatow called Witherspoon “Pure funny” and “Hilarious and always kind.”

Comedian and actor David Alan Grier tweeted: "RIP my brother. You will be missed. Mannnnnnn this is a hard one."