Legendary Comedian John Witherspoon — aka “Pops” — Dies at 77

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
Source: John Witherspoon

Witherspoon, who died suddenly in his home, has had parts in some of the most iconic movies of the last 30 years.

Legendary comedic actor John Witherspoon, who is known for his roles in properties like Friday, The Boondocks, The Wayans Bros., and more, died at his home on Tuesday, October 29th. He was 77. According to Deadline, the death was sudden.

Witherspoon’s family confirmed the death on his social media pages.

As soon as the news came out, family, fans, and colleagues posted their condolences on social media. Witherspoon’s son J.D. posted a loving message to his father:

Regina King and Ice Cube, who worked with Witherspoon on Friday, also posted tributes:


Marlon Wayans, who starred with Witherspoon on The Wayans Bros. and Jackée Harry, who worked on The First Family with him, also wrote tributes:


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I’m sad. Broken. Hurt.. yet extremely grateful to God that i got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving man @johnnywitherspoon you were my tv dad and my mentor and my friend. I miss you already. Something don’t feel right. This is heavy on my heart. Anyone that knows me knows how much i love pops. You have a strong wife and great kids. What an amazing family. Your boys damn near grew up on the #WayansBros set they’ll always be like my little brothers and sons. i will pass on all the jewels that you bestowed on to us. Thank you God for the many many many laughs that we shared on and off the set. You got “all the keys 🔑 “ and i know you got one to heaven’s gate. Anytime i want to laugh or to see you I’m gonna put on a episode of wayans bros and laugh until i cry. I miss already…. hope your dancing in heaven with ugly white shoes on. “Pops pops sugar pops”. #ripjohnwitherspoon #mysecondpops

A post shared by Marlon Wayans (@marlonwayans) on

John Witherspoon — originally John Weatherspoon — was born in Detroit in 1942. He started his career as a standup comic and then transitioned to doing TV and movie work (although he never stopped performing standup.) Since the ’80s, he had parts in cult classics like I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, House Party, Boomerang, The Meteor Man, Vampire in Brooklyn, Ride, and more. He also made appearances on numerous TV shows, including Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, The Tracy Morgan Show, and more.

Fans would most closely associate Witherspoon with one title, however: Pops. In 1995, Witherspoon would star as Ice Cube’s dad “Pops” in the classic Friday. He would also appear in the sequels Next Friday and Friday After Next, and seemed down to do Last Friday.)

He also played Pops on the cult TV classic on The Wayans Bros.

Later on in his career, he would be closely associated with the voice of Gramps on The Boondocks. He was expected to return for the series’ revival on HBO Max.


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Who’s ready for Grandad & The Boondocks to return? @boondocksbootleg

A post shared by John “POPS” Witherspoon (@johnnywitherspoon) on

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