Fred Willard, known for roles in Best in Show, Modern Family, dies aged 86

Fred Willard.
Fred Willard. Photo credit: Getty

Comedic actor Fred Willard, best known for his roles in classic mockumentaries including This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman, has died aged 86.

"He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end," Willard's daughter Hope Mulbarger said in a statement on Saturday. "We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever."

Although the cause of death has not been released, the 86-year-old, whose career in film and television spanned six decades, is said to have died peacefully on Friday night.

Willard, who had his own unique, improvisational style, was a four-time Emmy nominee for his work on the 80s' talk show What's Hot, What's Not, soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and popular sitcoms Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family. Although rarely a leading man, the Anchorman actor specialised in making short but sweet appearances across his extensive filmography. 

"How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard's gifts," actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who has been married to Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show director Christoper Guest since 1984, wrote on Twitter. 

"Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr Willard."

Willard's death comes nearly two years after his wife Mary, also a four-time Emmy nominee, passed away at the age of 71. 

"There was no man sweeter or funnier," comedian Jimmy Kimmel shared on Twitter. "We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits."