Willard, Fred 1939
WILLARD, Fred 1939
PERSONAL: Born September 18, 1939, in Shaker Heights, OH. Education: Graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Cunningham, Escott, Dipene and Associates, 257 Park Ave. S, Suite 900, New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Actor, comedian, and comedy writer. Member of the improvisational comedy troupes Second City, Chicago, IL; Ace Trucking Company, San Francisco, CA; and The Committee, all during the late 1960s. Appeared in television series as a regular performer in The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour, ABC, 1973; as assistant district attorney H. R. "Bud" Nugent in Sirota's Court, NBC, 1976-77; as Jerry Hubbard in Fernwood 2-Night, syndicated, 1977, renamed America 2-Night, syndicated, 1978; as a host of Real People, NBC, 1979, then 1981-83; as Fred the bartender in D.C. Follies, syndicated, 1987-89; as Scott in Roseanne, ABC, c. 1995-96; and as President Garner, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (also known as Lois and Clark and The New Adventures of Superman), ABC, 1995-96.-
Appeared in pilots for television series, and appeared as Bower in Operation Greasepaint, CBS, 1968; as Captain Thomas Woods in Space Force, NBC, 1978; as Jack LaRosa in Flatbed Annie and Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers (also known as Flatbed Annie), CBS, 1979; and as Ralph in Pen 'n' Inc., CBS, 1981. Appeared as Larry Crockett in the television production Salem's Lot (also known as Blood Thirst, Salem's Lot: The Miniseries, and Salem's Lot: The Movie), CBS, 1979. Appeared in made-for-television movies as Lance Colson in How to Break Up a Happy Divorce, NBC, 1976; as Pearson in Escape from Bogen County, CBS, 1977; as A. J. Foley in Lots of Luck, The Disney Channel, 1985; as Hal Harrison in Martin Mull in Portrait of a White Marriage (also known as Scenes from a White Marriage), Cinemax, 1988; as master of ceremonies Georgie Porgie in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, The Disney Channel, 1990; in "Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die" (also known as "Hart to Hart: Hart Attack"), NBC Friday Night Mystery, NBC, 1994; as Clarence Gentry in Sodbusters, Showtime, 1994; as a loan officer in Back to Back: American Yakusa II (also known as Back to Back), HBO, 1996; made an uncredited appearance as a talk-show host in Breast Men, HBO, 1997; as Howard Cosell in When Billie Beat Bobby, ABC, 2001. Appeared in television specials, including Madhouse 90, 1972; The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour, 1975; Gabriel Kaplan Presents the Small Event, ABC, 1977; The Second City Comedy Special, 1979; as an NBC team member in Battle of the Network Stars, ABC, 1981; as a host of Getting the Last Laugh, 1985; The History of White People in America: Volume I, Cinemax, 1985; The Second City 25th Anniversary Special, HBO, 1985; as a host of What's Hot, What's Not, 1985; The History of White People in America: Volume II, Cinemax, 1986; Martin Mull Live! from North Ridgeville, Ohio, HBO, 1987; This Week Indoors, 1987; Merrill Markoe's Guide to Glamorous Living, Cinemax, 1988; Superman's 50th Anniversary: A Celebration of the Man of Steel, 1988; The 14th Annual Circus of the Stars, CBS, 1989; The Third Annual American Comedy Awards, 1989; as a host of Access America, 1990; Candid Camera . . . Funny Money, CBS, 1990; Candid Camera . . . Smile, You're on Vacation!, CBS, 1990; as himself in Comics Only, 1991; The Fifth Annual American Comedy Awards, 1991; Louise DuArt: The Secret Life of Barry's Wife, Showtime, 1991; as a host of Real People Reunion Special, NBC, 1991; "Rodney Dangerfield's The Really Big Show," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1991; Tom Arnold: The Naked Truth, HBO, 1991; A Spinal Tap Reunion, NBC, 1992; Subaru Presents Fair Enough: Martin Mull at the Iowa State Fair, Comedy Central, 1994; and Steve.Oedekerk.Com, NBC, 1997.
Actor in episodes of television series, and appeared as John Emil Tobin in "Tobin's Back in Town," The Bob Newhart Show, CBS, 1975; as Jerry Hubbard in Forever Fernwood, syndicated, 1977; "The Bonanza," We've Got Each Other, CBS, 1977; as the guest host of Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1978; as himself in Thicke of the Night, syndicated, 1983 and 1984; "No More Alimony," The Love Boat, ABC, 1984; as Willie Potts in "Mama Buys a Car," Mama's Family, NBC, 1984; as Larry in "The Three Little Pigs," Faerie Tale Theatre, Showtime, 1985; "Home for Dinner," George Burns Comedy Week, CBS, 1985; Life's Most Embarrassing Moments, ABC, 1985; "Couples," The Love Boat, ABC, 1985; "A Friendly Christmas," The New Love, American Style, ABC, 1985; "Secret Romance," Fast Times, CBS, 1986; "Love and the Lambergenni," The New Love, American Style, ABC, 1986; "CPR," Punky Brewster, NBC, 1986; as Al Stefano in "Best Buddies," Fame, syndicated, c. 1987; "For Old Time's Sake," My Secret Identity, syndicated, 1988; "The Box Is Missing," Out of This World, syndicated, 1988; as Bob in "Dateline: Miami," The Golden Girls, NBC, 1991; as a guest performer in The Ben Stiller Show, Fox, 1992; as Fenton Harley in "Up All Night," Dream On, HBO, 1992; as Stan in "My Dinner with Anthrax," Married . . . with Children, Fox, 1992; as Bud Long in Dave's World, CBS, 1993; as Hatfield Walker in "Stand Up for Bastards," The Jackie Thomas Show, ABC, 1993; as Vice Principal Mallet in "The Looney Bin," Family Matters, ABC, 1994; as Dick in "Dick and Dottie," Murphy Brown, CBS, 1995; as Mr. Mitushka in Sister, Sister, ABC and The WB, 1995; as Joe Pasadine in Clueless, ABC, 1996; as Mr. Lipson in "The One after the Superbowl, Part I," Friends, NBC, 1996; as himself in "Needledrop," Space Ghost Coast, The Cartoon Network, 1997; as an award-show host in "The Competition," The Weird Al Show, CBS, 1997; as Henry Vincent in "Fire at Riff's," "The Finale," and "The Thanksgiving Show," all episodes of Mad about You (also known as Loved by You), NBC, 1998; as himself in "Conner Family Reunion," The Roseanne Show, syndicated, 1998; as Calzone in "Rumor Mill," Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, ABC, 1998; as Willard J. Fredrick in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 1998; as Larry in "Hostess to Murder," Just Shoot Me, NBC, 1999; as a voice characterization in "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1999; as Hank MacDougal in numerous episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, 2003; as Charlie in "Battle of Evermore," That '70s Show, 2003; and as voice characterizations in the animated series Kim Possible, and Dexter's Laboratory, Hey Arnold!, and King of the Hill; also appeared in episodes of SCTV Network 90 (also known as SCTV Comedy Network and SCTV Network), NBC and Cinemax; and Skip TV, Continental Cable System (Los Angeles, CA).
Appeared in films, including Teenage Mother, Cinemation, 1967; Jenny (also known as And Jenny Makes Three), Cinerama, 1969; as a gas station attendant in The Model Shop, Columbia, 1969; as a member of the Ace Trucking Company in The Harrad Experiment, Cinerama, 1973; Harrad Summer (also known as Student Union), Cinerama, 1974; as an interrogator in Hustle, Paramount, 1975; as F.B.I. agent Peter in Chesty Anderson, U.S. Navy (also known as Anderson's Angels and Chesty Anderson, U.S.N.), Atlas, 1976; as Jerry Jarvis in Silver Streak, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976; Cracking Up, American International Pictures, 1977; as Bob in Fun with Dick and Jane, Columbia, 1977; as Vincent Vanderhoff in Americathon, United Artists, 1979, rereleased as Americathon 1998; as presidential assistant Feebleman in First Family, Warner Bros., 1980; as Robert in How to Beat the High Co$t of Living, American International Pictures, 1980; as President Fogarty in "Success Wanters," National Lampoon Goes to the Movies (also known as National Lampoon's Movie Madness), United Artists, 1981; as himself in Second City Insanity, Lorimar Home Video, 1981; as Lieutenant Hookstratten in This Is Spinal Tap (also known as Spinal Tap), Embassy, 1984; as Terrence "Doc" Williams in Moving Violations, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985; as himself in Big City Comedy, LIVE Home Video, 1986; as Tom Osborne in Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall, Chanticleer Films, 1987; as Mayor Deebs in Roxanne, Columbia, 1987; as an insurance salesman in High Strung, Rocket Pictures, 1991; as Thomas MacGregor in Prehistoria! 3 (also known as Prehysteria 3), Paramount Home Video, 1995; as Ron Albertson in Waiting for Guffman (also known as The Christopher Guest Project), Sony Pictures Classics, 1996; as Craig Ziffer in Permanent Midnight, Artisan Entertainment, 1998; as Chester in Can't Stop Dancing, Stoneridge Entertainment/PM Entertainment Group, 1999; McClintock's Peach, West Wind Entertainment, 1999; as the president in The Pooch and the Pauper, 1999; as broadcaster Buck Laughlin in Best in Show, 2000; as Roger Dickey in Teddy Bears' Picnic, 2002, and as Chancellor Huntley in How High, 2002. Also appeared in The Perfect Woman, 1978, Kid-A-Littles, 1987, and Poker with the Joker. Appeared in stage productions, including The Return of the Second City in "20,000 Frozen Grenadiers," Square East Theatre, New York City, 1966; Arf, Stage 73, New York, NY, 1969; Little Murders, Circle in the Square Theatre, New York City, 1969; Elvis and Juliet, Theatre at the Improv, Los Angeles, CA, 1994; and Anything Goes, UCLA, 2002. Also appeared in advertisements with Martin Mull.
Getting the Last Laugh, 1985.
(Contributor of improvisational material based on a script outline by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy) Waiting for Guffman (also known as The Christopher Guest Project), Sony Pictures Classics, 1996.
(Contributor of improvisational material based on a script outline by Christopher Guest) Best in Show, 2000.
(Contributor of improvisational material based on historic commentary by Howard Cosell) When Billie Beat Bobby, ABC, 2001.
Has also written improvisational material for the stage.
SIDELIGHTS: Comedian and actor Fred Willard began his performing career with the comedy improvisational groups Second City, The Committee, and Ace Trucking Company during the late 1960s. He has appeared regularly in film and television roles since the 1960s in addition to writing and hosting the 1985 comedy special Getting the Last Laugh. Willard starred in the syndicated television series Fernwood 2-Night, a show later renamed America 2-Night. Willard played Jerry Hubbard, the dimwitted but affable cohost of a fictional late night talk show hosted by Barth Gimble, a character played by Martin Mull. Fernwood 2-Night "constitutes the first serious attempt to poke fun at the television talk show" and was distinguished by a "delightful sense of wicked satire" noted Walter J. Podrazik and Harry Castleman in Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows. Although Podrazik and Castleman admitted that Fernwood 2-Night "is probably too weird for many viewers," it did become a cult favorite.
Following Fernwood 2-Night, Willard appeared in several television productions. He appeared in the series Real People, D.C. Follies, and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Willard also made guest appearances in episodes of several popular television shows, including The Bob Newhart Show, The Love Boat, Married . . . with Children, and Murphy Brown. On the series Roseanne, he once again worked with Martin Mull. Willard and Mull have enjoyed a long working relationship, appearing together in the aforementioned television series as well as specials such as The History of White People in America, Volume I and The History of White People in America, Volume II, the made-for-television movie Martin Mull in Portrait of a White Marriage, and even advertisements.
Willard has also acted in several films. He appeared with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in Silver Streak, played Lieutenant Hookstratten in the fake "rockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap, and appeared in the 1987 film Roxanne, actor-comedian Steve Martin's adaptation of the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Willard portrays travel agent Ron Albertson in the 1996 film Waiting for Guffman, a comedy about the efforts of the townspeople of Blaine, Missouri, to stage a show commemorating the town's sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. The cast also includes Christopher Guest, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, and Parker Posey. The cast members improvised from a basic script outline developed by Guest and Levy, and critics admired the results. Newsweek contributor David Ansen praised "the terrific cast" and commented that "Guffman is both a savvy satire of smalltown boosterism and an affectionate salute to the performing spirit," noting that "the movie is, from start to finish, a hoot." Writing in People, Tom Gliatto found the spoof "wonderfully silly." Much like This Is Spinal Tap, another fake documentary, Waiting for Guffman became a cult favorite.
A versatile performer, Willard can also be counted on to flesh out a script idea or change dialogue to suit his character. In the made-for-television film When Billie Beat Bobby, Willard was faced with the task of paraphrasing the commentary of the late Howard Cosell, because Cosell's historic comments were under copyright. In the comic send-up of fancy dog shows, Best in Show, Willard romped as a clueless American broadcaster providing television commentary while knowing nothing at all about competitive dog breeding. In Entertainment Weekly Willard said that he developed his style of improvisation by watching his mother and grandmother "say stupid things" when he was young. He concluded: "Everyone has a little trapdoor in their mind where you go to say something and then you think no, you shouldn't say this. I just open that door."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Podrazik, Walter J., and Harry Castleman, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, Prentice Hall Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Entertainment Weekly, August 15, 1997, p. 84; October 6, 2000, Owen Gleiberman, "Arfhouse Cinema," p. 58; October 13, 2000, Fred Schruers, "Bark Victory," p. 24; April 20, 2001, "Triumph of the Willard: The 'Best in Show' Scene Stealer Apes Howard Cosell in 'When Billie Beat Bobby,'" p. 57.
Insight on the News, April 22, 2002, Rex Roberts, "It's No Picnic," p. 27.
Newsweek, February 10, 1997, p. 66.
People, September 12, 1988, p. 11; March 17, 1997, pp. 21-22; September 12, 1998, p. 11.
Variety, September 1, 1997, p. 30; April 1, 2002, Scott Foundas, review of Teddy Bears' Picnic, p. 33.
Video Business, April 15, 2002, review of How High, p. 13.*