Fred Willard of BB

Image: Nick Sined/JPI

The veteran actor of stage and screen passes away.

Fred Willard, who played Eric Forrester’s (John McCook’s) brother John Forrester on Bold & Beautiful, from 2014 until 2015 has died. He passed away on May 15 at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. His daughter Hope Mulbarger said he died “very peacefully.”

Frederick Charles Willard was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1933. He graduated from the Kentucky Military Institute and the Virginia Military Institute. He was briefly stationed in Germany for the United States Army. Afterward, Willard and his friend Vic Greco formed the comedy act Willard & Grecco which gained them some appearances on The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Tonight Show. Willard would go on and audition for Chicago’s Second City, making appearances with Robert Klein and David Steinberg. During this time he also co-founded the Ace Trucking Company, a comedy troupe that appeared regularly on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Dick Cavett Show. Willard made his film debut in the 1967 exploitation film Teenage Mother and later had a small role in This is Spinal Tap.

The actor was long associated with improvisational comedy. Willard’s career began to take off when he played Jerry Hubbard, the sidekick to Martin Mull’s talk show host Barth Gimble on the Norman Lear-created TV series Fernwood Tonight and America 2-night in 1977 and 1978. From there a slew of TV and movie guest roles followed.  Willard and Mull teamed up again in the 1985 HBO mockumentary The History of White People in America, and later in 1995 on Roseanne playing one of the first gay couples on television. He may be best known to audiences for his roles in various Christopher Guest-directed documentaries Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration and Mascots.

From 2003 until 2005 Willard appeared regularly on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond as Hank MacDougall, the father of Monica Horan’s Amy MacDougall-Barone. The role earned him three Emmy nominations. He was nominated for a fourth Emmy for his 2010 role on Modern Family playing Frank Dunphy, the father of Ty Burrell’s Phil Dunphy. In 2014 Willard won a Daytime Emmy for his portrayal of John Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Willard was married for 50 years to Mary Lovell Willard. She was a playwright and collaborated often with her husband. She died in 2018 at the age of 71. Willard is survived by his daughter Hope Mulbarger, a son-in-law, and grandson Freddie.

Soaps.com sends Willard’s family and friends our deepest condolences. Take a look through our photo gallery of other soap opera stars lost in 2020.