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Fred Willard’s Cause of Death Revealed

Fred Willard’s Cause of Death Revealed

Actor Fred Willard passed away on May 15, and now his cause of death has been released.

A death certificate obtained by TMZ, states the 86-year-old died of cardiac arrest at home at 6:45 p.m., and lists underlying causes as myelodysplastic syndrome and coronary artery disease.

He was laid to rest at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles last month.

His family previously told TMZ, "He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end. We loved him so very much. We will miss him forever."

Willard was born on September 18, 1939, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. After a stint in the army, he became a stage actor in the late '50s, including as part of the comedy team Willard & Greco with Vic Greco (who died in 2016). Appearing as as comedian on TV as early as the dawn of the '60s, he was a founding member of the Ace Trucking Company improv troupe and became a frequent "Tonight Show" performer.

Defying the usual trajectory, his career seemed to pick up steam over time, with stints on the "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" spin-offs "Fernwood 2 Night" (1977) and "America 2-Night" (1978) as well as a co-hosting gig on "Real People" (1979; 1981-1983) raising his profile. He was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for hosting "What's Hot, What's Not" (1985-1986), was part of the all-star cast of the Oscar-winning short "Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall" (1987), and hosted Sid and Marty Krofft's political puppets on "D.C. Follies" (1987-1989).

From 1995-1997, he played the husband of his old "Fernwood 2 Night" scene partner Martin Mull's character Leon on "Roseanne" (1995-1997), a groundbreaking portrayal of a married gay couple, presented humorously. The characters' nuptials in 1995 was an early gay wedding on TV.

Over the course of his 60-plus years in entertainment, he hosted "SNL" (1978), was a voice actor countless times, performed off-Broadway, and made many appearances on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" as such characters as Fred Trump and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He made perhaps his biggest impressions in film, in Rob Reiner's mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap" (1984) and in Christopher Guest's mockumentaries "Waiting for Guffman" (1996), "Best in Show" (2000), "A Mighty Wind" (2003), "For Your Consideration" (2006), and "Mascots" (2016). His many hosting jobs made him perfect as oblivious announcers doling out dad jokes.

He was also fondly remembered for appearances in both "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004) and "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (2013), and was a three-time Emmy nominee for his performance as Hank MacDougall on 14 episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (2003-2005).

Willard stole hearts and rustled laughs as Ty Burrell's character Phil Dunphy's dad Frank Dunphy on 14 episodes of "Modern Family" from 2009-2020, which earned him another Emmy nomination. Earlier this year, Frank Dunphy died of natural causes on the emotional "Legacy" episode of the show.

He is currently seen in his final project, the new Netflix parody "Space Force.” Ironically, "Space Force" was the name of a pilot for a series he shot in the '70s that went nowhere, and is, of course, in real life the name of a newly created branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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