Last night, the character Frank Dunphy, played by Fred Willard, exited “Modern Family” in a storyline that revealed his demise. Frank Dunphy was Phil Dunphy’s dad. The successful sitcom has been chugging along for years and is now in its 11th and final season.
Though Willard wasn’t always on the show, he certainly left an impression there. Fans of the show have been worried about Willard given his frail appearance lately, though there hasn’t been anything confirmed about his health.
Also Fred Willard, but "Wha' happen'?"https://t.co/ygtRNXX6zH
— mattunderscorec (@mattunderscorec) January 16, 2020
According to “Radar Online”, Willard, 80, has been in decline physically and mentally since his wife, Mary, died in July 2018. In fact, he’s been in failing health for the last seven years.
Radar Online cited a source, who said: “Mary was Fred’s everything. He’s been a broken man since her death. He told friends, ‘I don’t know how I can go on without her.’ ”
Fred and Mary were married for more than 50 years, and it must be devastating to lose someone you’ve spent more than half your life with. Clearly they had a deep love for each other, and perhaps Willard is looking forward to the next stage.
Another insider mentioned Willard has been battling an illness, but we don’t know the details about that.
“He was once one of the top comic actors in the business. But his illness and his grief have slowed him down considerably,” the source said.
While we don’t know everything that’s going on with him lately, his role on “Modern Family” has wrapped, so maybe this will be a good time for him to take some time off and get back to better health.
Fred Willard's delivery of "I'm joking, of course."https://t.co/c72Cuiknwm
— Jon Varner (@jonvarner) January 16, 2020
Willard has been in plenty of television roles over the decades — way too many to recount. But here’s a brief rundown of shows he’s appeared on: “Love Boat,” “Mama’s Family,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Golden Girls,” “Married …. With Children,” “Ally McBeal,” “Mad About You,” “Friends” and “Murphy Brown.”
Willard has enjoyed a successful career as an improv comedian as well, and often appeared on Christopher Guest’s wry mockumentaries like This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting For Guffman.
He also had a fun role as Mayor Deebs in the Cyrano de Bergerac-tinted comedy film Roxanne, and as Ed Harken in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, which went direct to video.
With his turn as Frank Dunphy on “Modern Family,” he’s certainly kept himself busy over the last few years.