Fred Willard (1933-2020)

Fred Willard who died yesterday was one of those actors you see all over the place in comedies. He was always in supporting roles, never the star, and sometimes those roles were just cameos. There was something intrinsically funny about him, a kind of appealing goofiness without being slapstick, combined with an ‘aw, shucks’ obliviousness that always made me smile whenever he appeared on the screen. He had a vast number of film and TV credits to his name and the chances are that even if his name did not register in your consciousness, you have seen him. I just learned that he was born in Shaker Heights, OH the town I lived in for thirty years.

He frequently played people who were clearly out of their depth but breezed along with confidence. It is hard to pick a single clip but here he is in Best In Show where he plays a commentator at an elite dog show who clearly does not know anything about dogs or dog shows, much to the visible discomfort of his expert colleague.

Here he is in a sketch playing a ‘doctor’. Sadly, in real life there are people willing to listen to similar quacks.


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