His manager confirmed that he had passed away in Los Angeles last night (October 29), though no cause of death has been revealed.
Witherspoon famously starred as Ice Cube's father in Friday, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
He was also a frequent collaborator of the Wayans Brothers and appeared in a number of films alongside Eddie Murphy, such as Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn and Dr. Doolittle 2. Witherspoon even appeared in JAY-Z's 2000 music video for "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)."
More recently, Witherspoon voiced "Granddad" on animated series The Boondocks. The show ran from 2005 to 2014, but was recently picked up by HBO for a two-season reboot set to debut next year. Witherspoon was expected to reprise his role.
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela and his two sons JD and Alexander.
Read some of the social media tributes pouring in for Witherspoon below.
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.— John Witherspoon (@John_POPS_Spoon) October 30, 2019
- The Witherspoon Family pic.twitter.com/ov9P34kaMn
So...my Dad died today & honestly I'm not sure how to feel. I'm sad, but I'm also happy 4 all the great times we had together. We'd roast each other like homies more than Father & Son, and I really liked that. He was my best friend & my idol.— J.D. (@jdwitherspoon) October 30, 2019
Love U Dad...I'll miss u.
- J.D. pic.twitter.com/zvzep5S11I
I'm devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won't be as funny without him. pic.twitter.com/gtmiZiEppP— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 30, 2019
My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King pic.twitter.com/U6GsNrrKXF— Regina King (@ReginaKing) October 30, 2019
🎤 This day began with such joy.— Arsenio Hall (@ArsenioHall) October 30, 2019
And it's ending with this heart wrenching news of John Witherspoon's passing. One of our comic brothers. 🌹 RIP pic.twitter.com/efSqqw6BHJ
Oh man, so sorry to hear about John Witherspoon. A great comic and a class act. Years ago, I had the privileged of working with him and not only was his act hilarious but he would also kill by dropping one of his many unforgettable movie quotes. #RIPJohnWitherspoon #coordinate pic.twitter.com/XsO71EKnGw— Matt "Nickname" Knudsen (@mattknudsen) October 30, 2019
rip john witherspoon. an icon in every sense of the word— jaboukie (@jaboukie) October 30, 2019
Thread: I don't have the words to talk about John Witherspoon's impact as a comedian and Black cultural icon. So I'm going to post some of my favorite work of his. #JohnWitherspoon #RIPPOPS pic.twitter.com/xE1RKqFvI3— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) October 30, 2019
John Witherspoon resonated with every last one of us because he represented someone in our family: embarrassing us at gatherings (Boomerang), misrepresenting our generations heroes ("Public Enema"?!), making a jingle about pretty much everything (Grandpa on Boondocks), the neighborhood wino (black Jesus—-or better yet Hollywood Shuffle)—-the list is endless. Bar none my favorite working/blue collar actor. Prolly THE most famous iconic character actor (I mean he didn't star in vehicles but he was no doubt THE go to support) the best knew to get the best. When interviewing @davidalangrier on @QLS him describing what should have been a routine 15 min scene at the family table in Boomerang wound up being a non stop hour and a half us master class riffing amongst masters, with Witherspoon leading the way. History should tell it well, all the greats utilized him on their project for the last 45 years (Richard Pryor Show/Whats Happening!/Good Times/WKRP/227/Martin/Amen/Fresh Prince/Wayans Bros/Living Single/Boondocks/First Family/blackish/Black Jesus)—-he will forever be our pop pops. RIP