John Witherspoon: biography
The Detroit native, John Witherspoon became widely known in the 1980s. His movie career lasted for almost five decades. Known for such movies as Hollywood Shuffle, Friday, Vampire in Brooklyn, Dr.Dolittle 2, and others, John had made a name as a professional actor and stand-up comedian. Apart from his best movies, John starred in a lot of TV series. He died on October 29, 2019 at the age of 77. He had been married for 32 years and was a father of two sons. Witherspoon’s net worth was roughly estimated at $4 million, including all of his properties and earnings.
Childhood and youth
The birthplace of John Weatherspoon was Detroit. He was born to his parents on January 27, 1942. John grew up in a large family, being one of 11 siblings. All of the children had various interests, and little John liked music and even could play several musical instruments. Later he changed his surname to Witherspoon.
Started as a model, John continued as a comedian. He first broke into stand-up comedy in the early 1960s. In 1977 John made his breakthrough, appeared on a big screen. That year he was cast as a member of Richard Pryor's comedy variety show. Soon John got supporting roles in ABC’s sitcom What's Happening!!, CBS’s Barnaby Jones, and NBC’s Hill Street Blues.
In 1980 the rising actor began appearing in movies. His debut project was The Jazz Singer, an American drama movie and a remake of the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer, released by EMI Films. Seven years later, Witherspoon became widely known as Mr.Jones in Hollywood Shuffle. He played Bobby's boss at Winky Dinky Dog and tried his best to keep Bobby a steady employee but became exasperated by Bobby's constant need to attend auditions.
In 1994 the Detroit-born actor appeared alongside Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which he played Augustus Adams, who was the protective dad of Will Smith's girlfriend, Lisa. In a bid to scare Will out of having a relationship he took him on a trip aboard his plane but crash lands in a mountain forest. Smith eventually escaped from Augustus after becoming unsettled by his overbearing personality.
In a year, Witherspoon starred as John "Pops" Williams on the WB’s sitcom The Wayans Bros. He performed the role of Shawn and Marlon's dysfunctional tacky father, who owned his locally famed diner right by Shawn and Marlon's newsstand. He continued playing Pops until 1999, appeared in 101 episodes. The most notable John’s work became American stoner comedy movie Friday, directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh.
In 2000 and 2002, Witherspoon continued playing in Friday’s sequels alongside Ice Cube. They became the only actors who appeared in all parts of the franchise. Over the years, John managed to work with a lot of well-known actors. Several times he starred with Eddie Murphy in such movies as Boomerang (1992), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Dr.Dolittle 2 (2001), and others.
John tied the knot with Angela Robinson in 1988. His wife also worked in the movie industry as an actor. The couple had two sons, John David, and Alexander. Famous TV host and comedian, and John’s friend, David Letterman, became the godfather to his two sons. John David caught the acting and comedy bug. Like his dad, he performs stand-up and has voiced a character on The Boondocks. He is married to Pilar Teaspoon, an Internet personality.
On October 29, 2019, John Witherspoon died. No cause of death was revealed, but his family said they were shocked. They made a statement on Witherspoon’s official Twitter account:
"It is with the 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. 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 a huge deal to us."
Celebrities all over the US shared their favorite John Witherspoon quotes and movie moments. The rapper Ice Cube said he was “devastated” by the news. “Life won’t be as funny without him,” Ice Cube wrote. Chance the Rapper wrote about the actor: “God bless John Witherspoon. The definition of an icon.” He included a clip of one of the actor’s most famous quotes from the movie Friday.
Regina King, who played Witherspoon’s daughter on Friday, also paid tribute to her on-screen dad. She tweeted: “My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King.”
- 1980 – The Jazz Singer
- 1986 – Ratboy
- 1987 – Hollywood Shuffle
- 1990 – House Party
- 1990 – Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!
- 1991 – Talkin' Dirty After Dark
- 1992 – Boomerang
- 1993 – The Meteor Man; Fatal Instinct
- 1995 – Friday
- 1995 – Vampire in Brooklyn
- 1997 –Sprung
- 1998 – Bulworth; Ride
- 2000 – Next Friday; The Ladies Man
- 2002 – Friday After Next
- 2006 – Little Man
- 2007 – After Sex
Main TV appearances:
- 1993 – Townsend Television
- 1995-1999 – The Wayans Bros.
- 2003-2004 – The Tracy Morgan Show
- 2005-2014 – The Boondocks
- 2012-2015 – The First Family
- 2014-2019 – Black Jesus