Jimmy Kimmel Honors Frequent Live! Guest Fred Willard in Tribute Episode
Three days after Fred Willard’s death, Jimmy Kimmel honored the comedy legend on Monday with a Live episode entirely dedicated to Willard’s life and career.
“Tonight’s show will be a special show, it will be a sad show,” Kimmel began. “But we will also laugh a lot as we pay tribute to a lovely and genuinely funny man named Fred Willard.” (The actor died of natural causes on May 15; he was 86 years old.)
Throughout his 10-minute monologue, embedded above, Kimmel reflected on his favorite Willard roles, including that of announcer Jerry Hubbard on the talk show parody Fernwood Tonight.
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But Kimmel also had a more personal connection to Willard, who appeared on Live multiple times over the years and popped up in various sketches. Among his notable characters: Len Draizin, President Trump’s official nickname maker; Charles Potter, the “premarital fornication activist”; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and the ghost of George Washington.
“We could not get enough Fred,” Kimmel said. “He never had any time to prepare for these bits… He and I would do it with no rehearsal, live in front of the audience, and he nailed it every time. Dozens of times, up to 86 years old, he killed it. We loved being around Fred.” (Kimmel then cued up a reel of Willard’s many Live appearances, choking up a bit as he did so.)
Also on Monday’s tribute episode, several of Willard’s celebrity friends and collaborators — including Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Ray Romano and sitcom legend Norman Lear — shared their own memories of working with Willard throughout the years. Watch their remembrances below:
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