Reportedly, Willard died of natural causes on Friday, May 15. His death was confirmed to PEOPLE magazine via a representative.
“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,” his daughter, Hope, told PEOPLE in a statement. “We loved him so very much!”
“The cast, staff and crew of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Fred Willard. An amazing comedian & actor, he was also a gracious & kind man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” read a statement by producers of the CBS soap on Twitter.
In a 2014 interview with Soap Opera Network, Willard told us, “I’ve always wanted to be on a soap opera, because as an actor, I love the way they work.” He added, “They work fast and each scene is like a little quick one-act play; they don’t beat it to death. The atmosphere was wonderful. The actors who have been on the show couldn’t have been nicer. John McCook [Eric Forrester, ‘B&B’] kind of showed me through the ropes and all and made me feel right at home. [Though], I kept expecting to be shuttered off to the side or pranked or something!”
Willard won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for his portrayal. He shared the award in a three-way tie with Ray Wise and Donna Mills.
In addition to his soap experience, Willard’s other credits include “Best in Show,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Modern Family,” among countless others. Over 11 seasons of the ABC comedy, Willard played the role of Frank, receiving an Emmy Award nomination for Oustanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Willard’s wife, Mary, died nearly two years earlier at the age of 71. They were married in 1968 and had one daughter.
The cast, staff and crew of The Bold and the Beautiful mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, @Fred_Willard. An amazing comedian & actor, he was also a gracious & kind man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. #FredWillard #BoldandBeautiful @Bandb_CBS pic.twitter.com/CDBVxdPu7z
— BoldInsider (@boldinsider) May 16, 2020