Willard's daughter Hope Mulbarger also shared a statement, saying, "My father passed away very peacefully last night at the fantastic age of 86 years old. He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever."
Willard's influence and legacy in comedy cannot be understated. Early in his career, he worked with his partner Vic Grecco as part of the Willard & Grecco comedy duo. They appeared on the likes of The Dean Martin Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Tonight Show. From there, he appeared in shows like the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman spinoff Fernwood 2 Night.
His career reached another high when he collaborated with Christopher Guest on numerous mockumentaries, including A Mighty Wind, Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman. He also had notable appearances in Anchorman, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and numerous other 2000s movies.
More recently, Willard was tied to alternative comedy properties with notable appearances in Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and I Think You Should Leave to name but a few.
Read some tributes to Willard below.
Fred Willard was the funniest person that I've ever worked with. He was a sweet, wonderful man.— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) May 16, 2020
Just learned of Fred Willard's passing. Just about the funniest human ever to walk the planet. An amazing talent, in telekinetic contact with the very wellspring of comedy.— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 16, 2020
We didn't deserve someone as funny as Fred Willard. https://t.co/UqK8BWlFTd— Vera Drew 🌹 🦇 #ibelievetara (@VeraDrew22) May 16, 2020
I watched Fernwood 2 Night every night when I was 18 years old. Fred Willard was dazzling. RIP a legend.— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) May 16, 2020
Thank you @Fred_Willard 😥— Destroyer Of Comedy, Humor (@timheidecker) May 16, 2020
RIP Fred Willard ..you were incomparable— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) May 16, 2020