Fred Williard who played John Forrester, Eric’s brother on The Bold and the Beautiful, has died. The legendary comedic actor was 86 years old. According to reports, he passed away from natural causes.
Fred Willard Passes Away
Willard was perhaps best known for his role as Jerry Hubbard, sidekick to Barth Gimble (Martin Mull), on the Norman Lear syndicated sitcom Fernwood Tonight, a spinoff of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Sitcom fans also know him for his recurring roles of Frank Dunphy on the long-running ABC series Modern Family and Hank MacDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond.
But it was BB that brought him to the soap genre. The character of John Forrester, Eric’s brother, was first referenced way back in 1994 when his daughter, Jessica (Maitland Ward), came to live with Stephanie (Susan Flannery), as John’s marriage was on the rocks.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the character appeared in the flesh. In 2015, Willard won a Daytime Emmy for his portrayal of Eric’s eccentric brother for Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series, tying in the category with Donna Mills (ex-Madeline, General Hospital) and Ray Wise (ex-Ian, The Young and the Restless).
Previously, Willard had earned four Primetime Emmy nominations and a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1986 in the category of Outstanding Talk or Service Show Host for hosting the short-lived What’s Hot, What’s Not.
A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Willard amassed over 300 performing credits during his career as an actor. His other credits include The Odd Couple, Mad About You, King of the Hill, and Castle. Willard appeared on the big screen, too, including the film Best in Show in which he played dog judge Buck Laughlin.
Willard was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Lovell, who passed away last July. The couple wed in 1968 and had one child, a daughter, Hope. Willard is also survived by a grandson.
The BB family has issued a statement on Willard’s passing on the show’s official Twitter account: “The cast, staff and crew of The Bold and the Beautiful mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, @Fred_Willard. An amazing comedian & actor, he was also a gracious & kind man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. #FredWillard #BoldandBeautiful @Bandb_CBS.”
McCook also paid tribute to his late on-screen sibling: “Fred Willard was a brother to Eric Forrester on B&B.. I should have been so blessed. RIP.”
Days of our Lives star Eric Martsolf (Brady) paid tribute to Willard, whom he once shared the theatrical stage with in a production of Li’l Abner: “RIP Fred. This man brought so much laughter into my life, and will always be my favorite Dog Show judge. God bless ya good sir. @fredwillardofficial #Li’lAbner.”
His current DAYS co-star, Linsey Godrey (Sarah), was on BB as well as Caroline and remembered Willard fondly. “Oh man the news of Fred Willard is so heartbreaking. I had the pleasure of getting to work with him on @BandB_CBS He was such a truly lovely and hysterical person.”
Soap Hub extends sincere condolences to Willard’s family at this difficult time. The Bold and the Beautiful (BB) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes.
The cast, staff and crew of The Bold and the Beautiful mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, @Fred_Willard. An amazing comedian & actor, he was also a gracious & kind man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. #FredWillard #BoldandBeautiful @Bandb_CBS pic.twitter.com/CDBVxdPu7z
— BoldInsider (@boldinsider) May 16, 2020
Fred Willard was a brother to Eric Forrester on B&B.. I should have been so blessed. RIP.
— John McCook (@JohnMcCook44) May 16, 2020
Oh man the news of Fred Willard is so heartbreaking. I had the pleasure of getting to work with him on @BandB_CBS ❤️ He was such a truly lovely and hysterical person.
— Linsey Godfrey (@linseygodfrey) May 16, 2020