US actor and comedian John Witherspoon has died at the age of 77, his family has said.
Witherspoon, best known for his role in the Friday series of films, died at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to his family.
It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away. He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you “POPS” always & forever.
– The Witherspoon Family pic.twitter.com/ov9P34kaMn
— John Witherspoon (@John_POPS_Spoon) October 30, 2019
A statement released on his Twitter account said: “It is with deep sadness we have to tweet this, but our husband & father John Witherspoon has passed away.
“He was a Legend in the entertainment industry, and a father figure to all who watched him over the years. We love you ‘POPS’ always & forever.”
Witherspoon, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, started his career as a stand-up comedian and began acting in the 1970s.
One of his most popular TV roles was in 1990s comedy series The Wayans Bros, in which he played Pops, the on-screen father of Shawn and Marlon Wayans.
He was best-known for playing the grumpy father of rapper Ice Cube in the 1995 comedy Friday. He reprised the role in sequels Next Friday and Friday After Next.
Shortly after news of Witherspoon’s death emerged, Oscar-winning actress Regina King, who starred alongside him in Friday, paid tribute.
She tweeted: “My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration! I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King.”
Ice Cube also tweeted, writing: “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon. Life won’t be as funny without him.”
Witherspoon is survived by his wife Angela, and sons JD and Alexander.