Fred Willard Biography

Fred Willard photo

Born: September 18, 1939


Date of Birth: September 18, 1939

With over 100 guest appearances on TV shows to his credit, Fred Willard first became a familar face in 1977 when he landed a recurring role on Fernwood 2Nite, a spinoff from the quirky hit sitcom Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Willard got his start performing comedy at Chicago's famed Second City, and formed an improv comedy troupe called the Ace Trucking Company. His first turn in front of the cameras was in the feature Teenage Mother (1968), filmed in New York. He made the move to Los Angeles shortly afterwards, landing a role in Model Shop (1969). He next appeared alongside Alan Alda in Jenny (1970), and in 1973 made his TV debut as a regular on The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour.

Willard has worked steadily ever since, chalking up guest roles on TV series from the 1960s sitcom Get Smart to the more current Everybody Loves Raymond, and in movies such as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and This is Spinal Tap (1984), directed by Rob Reiner and starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. He worked again with Guest when he was directed by him in Waiting for Guffman(1996) and Best in Show (2000), for which Willard won an American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, as well as a Boston Film Critics Society award for Best Supporting Actor. He teamed up again with the trio from Spinal Tap in A Mighty Wind (2003). He has also hosted the TV shows Real People and Access America. In 2003 he returned to television with a regular role on the sitcom A Minute with Stan Hooper.

Like many performers, Willard likes to keep busy and has numerous stage roles to his credit, including the off-Broadway production of Little Murders directed by Alan Arkin, Call Me Madame in Chicago, and the musical Promises, Promises in Los Angeles with Jason Alexander. He completed a sold-out run of his show Fred Willard: Alone at Last! and received two Los Angeles Artistic Director Awards for Best Comedy and Best Production. Willard and his wife, playwright Mary Willard, live in Los Angeles where they run a weekly sketch comedy workshop.

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