John Witherspoon

Active - 1980 - 2020  |   Born - Jan 27, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Rovi

Funnyman John Witherspoon has parlayed a successful career as a standup comic into a series of memorable film roles. Born in Detroit, MI, Witherspoon began his show business career as a model in the early '70s before striking out on his own as a comedian. His first big break came in 1977 when he landed a regular spot on Richard Pryor's short-lived television variety series, and he began playing supporting roles on such shows as What's Happening!, Good Times, and WKRP in Cincinnati. In 1980, Witherspoon made his film debut playing a nightclub MC in Neil Diamond's 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer. Witherspoon's big-screen breakthrough, however, came in Robert Townsend's comedy Hollywood Shuffle, in which Witherspoon played Mr. Jones, the manager of the Winky Dinky Dog hot-dog stand. The surprise success of Hollywood Shuffle led to a string of film parts and recurring roles on two television series -- the short-lived Townsend Television in 1993 and 1995's The Wayans Bros., which ran for four years, with Witherspoon playing "Pop" Williams. In 1995, Witherspoon also played ill-tempered dogcatcher Mr. Jones in Ice Cube's urban comedy Friday. John Witherspoon still tours as a standup comic when he's not busy with film and television work. Witherspoon played a recurring part on the sitcom The Wayans Brothers, and appeared in small roles in a variety of films including I Got the Hook Up, The Ladies Man, and Fakin' Da Funk. In addition to appearing in multiple sequels to Friday, Witherspoon teamed up with old colleagues when he played a part for the Wayans brothers in Little Man. Witherspoon also brought his caustic sensibility to his voice work on the animated television adaptation of the controversial comic strip The Boondocks.

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  • One of 11 siblings.
  • Elder brother, William, became a songwriter in for Motown.
  • Has a passion for music and plays the trumpet and French horn.
  • Began his stand-up comedy career in the 1960s and 1970s, where he met friends Robin Williams, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.
  • Has appeared in a number of music videos, including Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)".
  • David Letterman is the godfather to his two sons.