US actor-comedian John Witherspoon dies at 77

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John WitherspoonImage source, Getty Images

US actor and comedian John Witherspoon, best known for his role as rapper Ice Cube's father in the comedy trilogy Friday, has died at the age of 77.

Born John Weatherspoon, he started out as a stand-up comedian in the 1970s.

He made his film debut in the 1980 The Jazz Singer and appeared in Hollywood Shuffle, Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn and The Ladies Man.

The cause of death is not known. Relatives and celebrity friends have been paying tribute to Witherspoon.

"We love you 'POPS' always and forever," his family said on his Twitter account.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Witherspoon played Ice Cube's father "Pops" in the Friday trilogy

He voiced the grandfather in the Boondocks animated series and was a frequent guest on Late Show with David Letterman

But for many, Witherspoon's performance as "Pops" in Friday was his most recognisable role. He also appeared in the sequels Next Friday and Friday After Next.

Ice Cube said in a Twitter post he was devastated by the death. "Life won't be as funny without him," he added.

Celebrities including Chance The Rapper, actress Jackée Harry, director Judd Apatow and Ava Dupernay paid tributes to the actor.

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Witherspoon is survived by his wife, Angela, and two sons.