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John Witherspoon (born John Weatherspoon; January 27, 1942) is an American actor and comedian who has performed in many television shows and films.[1]

John Witherspoon
John Weatherspoon

(1942-01-27) January 27, 1942 (age 77)
ResidenceSherman Oaks, California, US
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1977–present
Angela Robinson (m. 1988)

Best known for his role as Willie Jones for the Friday series,[1] Witherspoon has also starred in films such as Hollywood Shuffle (1987), Boomerang (1992) and Vampire In Brooklyn (1995).[1] He has also made appearances on television shows such as The Wayans Bros. (1995–99), The Tracy Morgan Show (2003), Barnaby Jones (1973), The Boondocks (2005–present), The Five Heartbeats (1991) and Black Jesus (2014).[1] He wrote a film, From the Old School, in which he played an elderly working man who tries to prevent a neighborhood convenience store from being developed into a strip club.


John Weatherspoon was born in Detroit, Michigan.[2] He later changed his surname to "Witherspoon". John is one of 11 siblings. An elder brother, William, became a songwriter in Detroit for Motown, who may be best known for the single "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", which became a hit for Jimmy Ruffin. Another sibling, Cato, was a longtime director of the PBS-TV Network/CH56 in Detroit for almost four decades. Their sister, Dr. Gertrude Stacks, is a evangelist and the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Detroit. The family is also related to songwriter and record producer Lamont Dozier.

John continued his passion for music and learned to play the trumpet and French horn.


Witherspoon worked occasionally as a model. During the 1960s and 1970s, Witherspoon began to take a liking towards comedy. During that time he began his stand-up comedy career. As a result, he had many friends in the business, including Tim Reid (while he was working on WKRP in Cincinnati and The Richard Pryor Show), Robin Williams (also on The Richard Pryor Show), Jay Leno, and David Letterman.

Witherspoon has performed in many feature films (usually comedies), including Friday (and its sequel Next Friday) as well as Hollywood Shuffle, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, Bird, Vampire in Brooklyn , and The Meteor Man.[2]

Witherspoon is also known for his over-the-top characters in films like House Party, in which he played an irritated neighbor who is repeatedly woken up by the party. In the film Boomerang with Eddie Murphy where he plays Mr Jackson, the ill-mannered father of Murphy's best friend. During a hilarious dinner scene, he tells Murphy's "Marcus" to take the upper hand in his relationship with Robin Givens's character "Jacqueline" simulating aggressive sex pumping his hips under the dinner table yelling "Bang bang...bang bang bang". The line has become a signature for Witherspoon and is often heard during his stand-up routines.


His first television appearance was on the 1970s CBS television show Barnaby Jones, playing a camp counselor for drug addicted youth, one of whom was played by Sean Penn in his first acting job. Subsequent performances were on Good Times, What's Happening!! and The Incredible Hulk. In 1977, he became a regular on the series The Richard Pryor Show, an NBC American comedy series. This then led to his appearance in WKRP In Cincinnati in 1978 in the fourth season, episode 84. Witherspoon played Detective Davies.

In 1981, he appeared in Hill Street Blues, an NBC police drama, as a businessman who tries to buy a hotdog from an undercover Detective Belker. In 1981, he had an appearance on L.A. Law, an NBC legal drama, in the episode "On Your Honor" as Mark Steadman. He appeared in other television series including You Again? as Osborne, 227, which was an NBC comedy about women who lived in a majority black apartment complex, and What's Happening Now!!, the sequel to What's Happening!!.

A year later Witherspoon was in Amen (1988), an American television sitcom that ran on NBC, as the bailiff. The show was known for being one of the shows during the 1980s that featured an almost entirely black cast.

Next came spots on Townsend Television (1993), Cosmic Slop (1994), and Murder Was The Case (1994) as a drunk.

He appeared in Fox's Living Single (1997) episode "Three Men and a Buckeye" as Smoke Eye Howard. His largest role in a television series was in The Wayans Bros. (1995–1999) which aired on The WB and starred Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans, who played brothers Shawn and Marlon Williams. Witherspoon played their father, John "Pops" Williams.

Witherspoon was on the Kids' WB animation series Waynehead, which was about a young boy growing up poor in the Harlem, New York City. The show was aired on Saturday mornings and was based on creator Damon Wayans' life.

In 2003, Witherspoon made a showing on NBC's Last Comic Standing, a reality television show that selected the comedian out of a group and gave him a contract, in the Las Vegas finals. Also in 2003, he performed in The Proud Family, an animated series that aired on Disney Channel, as Oran Jones in the episode "Adventures in Bebe Sitting." He also performed in an episode of another Disney Channel's animated series, Kim Possible.

He starred in the comedy series The Tracy Morgan Show as Spoon in all 18 episodes of the show.

In 2004 he was in Pryor Offenses, a television movie and played Willie the Wino. In 2005, he was seen in the Comedy Central talk show Weekends at the D.L. where he played the character of Michael Johnson. In the same year he began starring in Aaron McGruder's animated series The Boondocks as "Robert Jebediah 'Granddad' Freeman"; this Cartoon Network series ran for four seasons. In 2006 he performed in a television movie, Thugaboo: A Miracle on D-Roc's Street, a story about a group of kids who find the true meaning of Christmas. In the movie he plays Real Santa, a Christmas singer on the radio. His next appearance was on The Super Rumble Mixshow in 2008. He also appeared in another Aaron McGruder series, Black Jesus, portraying Lloyd, a homeless man.

In 2011 he starred in a Final Destination spoof with Shane Dawson on YouTube. In May 2013 he featured on "Saturday (skit)", from rapper Logic on his latest mixtape Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever.

Music videosEdit

John Witherspoon has appeared in a number of music videos in the music industry. He was in the music video for hip-hop superstar Jay-Z's 2000 single "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)". He was also in Field Mob's music video for their song "Sick of Being Lonely". Other music movies include Goodie Mob's "They Don't Dance No Mo'" and LL Cool J's "Ain't Nobody".

Comedy tourEdit

Witherspoon went back to his comedian roots and started a comedy tour that premiered on television on March 28, 2008 on Showtime Network. On his 2009 tour, he had 19 stops across the country. In December 2011, Witherspoon performed his stand up comedy act once again on stage at the Funny Bone comedy club at Harrah's Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1988, Witherspoon married Angela Robinson. They have two children, John David ("J.D.") and Alexander.[citation needed] J.D. is known for making skits and gameplay videos on YouTube, and currently hosts the mobile game show Confetti on Facebook Watch. David Letterman is the godfather to Witherspoon's two sons.[citation needed]



Year Film Role Notes
1980 The Jazz Singer M.C.
1986 Ratboy Heavy
1987 Hollywood Shuffle Mr. Jones
1988 I'm Gonna Get You Sucka Reverend
1988 Bird Sid
1990 House Party Mr. Strickland
1991 Talkin Dirty After Dark Dukie
1991 The Five Heartbeats Wild Rudy
1992 Boomerang Mr. Jackson
1993 The Meteor Man Clarence James Carter III
Fatal Instinct Detective
1994 Murder Was the Case Drunk #1
1995 Friday Willie Jones
Vampire in Brooklyn Silas Green
1997 Fakin' da Funk Bill
Sprung Detective
1998 Bulworth Reverend Morris
I Got the Hook-Up Mr. Mimm
High Freakquency Wes Thomas
Ride Roscoe
2000 Next Friday Willie Jones
The Ladies Man Scrap Iron
Little Nicky Street Vendor
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Zoo Bear #2 (voice)
2002 Friday After Next Willie Jones
2004 Soul Plane Blind Man
2006 Little Man Pops
2007 After Sex Gene
2008 The Super Rumble Mixshow
The Hustle Mr. Wikes
You Got to Coordinate Himself Stand-up
2009 Hopelessly in June Mr. Myers
2011 Chick Magnet
2012 A Thousand Words Blind Old Man
2019 I Got the Hook Up 2 Mr. Mimm
2019 Reality Queen Joe The Plumber
TBA Last Friday Willie Jones


Year Title Role Notes
1977 The Richard Pryor Show Various 2 episodes
1978 The Incredible Hulk Tom Episode: "Final Round"
What's Happening!! D.J. Episode: "Disco Dollar Disaster"
1979 Good Times Officer Lawson Episode: "A Matter of Mothers"
Barnaby Jones Frank Wales Episode: "School of Terror"
1982 WKRP in Cincinnati Detective Davies Episode: "Circumstantial Evidence"
Hill Street Blues Businessman Episode: "The Young, The Beautiful and the Degraded"
1986 You Again? Osborne Episode: "Good Neighbors"
1987 227 Man #2 Episode: "Low Noon"
What's Happening Now!! Adam Episode: "Family Life"
Frank's Place Ray Parrish Episode: "Season's Greetings"
1988 Amen The Balliff 2 episodes
1990 L.A. Law Mark Steadman Episode: "On Your Honor"
1993 Townsend Television 10 episodes
Martin Uncle Junior Episode: "Thanks for Nothing"
1994 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Augustus Adams Episode: "The Harder They Fall"
1995-99 The Wayans Bros. John "Pops" Williams Main cast
101 episodes
1996-97 Waynehead Dad (voice) 3 episodes
1997 Living Single Smoke Eye Howard Episode: "Three Men and a Buckeye"
2000 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Scofflaw (voice) Episode: "The Prince and the Pauper"
2003-04 The Proud Family Oran Jones (voice) 3 episodes
The Tracy Morgan Show Spoon Main cast
18 episodes
2004 Kim Possible Wayne (voice) Episode: "Rewriting History"
Pryor Offenses Willie The Wino TV movie
2005 Weekends at the D.L. Michael Johnson Episode: "1.14"
2005-2014 The Boondocks Robert "Granddad" Freeman (voice) / Blind Man (voice) Main cast
55 episodes
2006 Thugaboo: A Miracle on D-Roc's Street Real Santa (voice) / Christmas Singer on Radio (voice) TV movie
2008 The Super Rumble Mixshow
2011 Tosh.O Fart Section Bus Passenger Episode: "Fart Bus Kid"
2012-15 The First Family Grandpa Alvin Recurring role
28 episodes
2013-15 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja S. Ward Smith (voice) 3 episodes
2014 Anger Management Will Episode: "Charlie Tests His Power"
2014-19 Black Jesus Lloyd 31 episodes
2014 Black Dynamite (voice) Episode: "The Warriors Come Out or The Mean Queens of Halloween"
2016 Black-ish James Brown 2 episodes
Animals. Jimmy (voice) Episode: "Squrriels Part I"
2017 White Famous Limo Driver Episode: "Pilot"
2019 The Jellies (voice) Episode: "Doctor Pirates!"


  1. ^ a b c d "John Witherspoon". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 November 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Berry, S. Torriano; Berry, Venise T. (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 480. ISBN 9781442247024.

Further readingEdit

  • Berry, Torianno; Berry, Venise T. (2007). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Scarecrow Press.

External linksEdit