In my 30+ years in the comedy world I have yet to meet a comedian worth the name who can’t tell you when they first saw Fred Willard on screen. For me it was a double whammy in 1984: Watching Mama’s Family with my parents then sneaking into This Is Spinal Tap after my buddy’s parents bought us tickets to see Ice Pirates. Never has breaking a rule impacted me more.
Fred Willard was a master of awkward comedy. He was so seamless in his performance that sometimes I would re-watch scenes just to see the other actors trying so hard not to break character. When you watch the outtakes you see how often they failed.
In a 50 year career the only “scandal” with him was him going to an adult theater once. He responded by reviewing the film as “lousy”. While I never saw the film in question I have no reason to doubt his assessment.
Fred Willard was not only a legend of comedy, he was an incredibly giving actor and person. You cannot find someone with a harsh word to say about him either personally or professionally. What you will find is people from all walks of life saying just how nice he was.
The world is a little dimmer now than it was yesterday. RIP Fred Willard. We will definitely remember you.