On Tuesday (Nov. 5) in Los Angeles, Hollywood’s biggest names came out for John Witherspoon’s celebration of life service to commemorate the late beloved actor and comedian. Friends, celebrities and colleagues honored Witherspoon’s memory with stories, tributes and laughs.
David Letterman, who started out with Witherspoon at The Comedy Story alongside Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Jay Leno, commenced the ceremony. Ice Cube was one of several speakers at the event, who reminisced about his Friday co-star.
“Laughter is the medicine for our mind, body, and soul,” he said to the large crowd. “It helps us get through this crazy world, and God bless the ones that make us laugh. John was naturally funny. No matter how bad a script was, [there] was nothing you could do to harness John’s funny. It was going to come through. He was going to turn it into magic and that was his true gift.”
JOHN WITHERSPOON’S FUNERAL The “Friday” crew was present to honor John Witherspoon at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills. #JohnWitherspoon #TheCUTChronicles (©2019 https://t.co/YKYHUdPZK0) pic.twitter.com/dPad7iqJtT— Dr. Eric J. Chambers (@EricJChambers) November 6, 2019
Other celebrity guest speakers included Cedric the Entertainer, George Wallace, Angela Gibbs and Bill Bellamy. Regina King, who worked with Witherspoon on “The Boondocks,” couldn’t attend the ceremony. However, TMZ reports that she sent a video message, which was played for attendees on the big screen.
Marlon Wayans, who starred alongside Witherspoon on “The Wayans Bros.” series, was not able to attend either, although he shared a heartfelt post on social media.
“Can’t make your send off Pops,” the actor wrote on Instagram. “I’m broken up about it. Unfortunately, have to work. I know you would tell me ‘mahlon, go get that PAPER! You better go get them keys see... you got a comedy key, a sitcom key a movie key, a stand up key ... now go get that drama key now you gonna unlock all that PAPER.’ I’ll always hear you. I’m glad every time we said goodbye it was always with a fatherly hug and kiss. So that’s the goodbye I’ll leave it with. #ripPOPS [John Witherspoon] playing some Johnny Mathis ‘chances are’ in your honour.”
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Can’t make your send off Pops... I’m broken up about it. Unfortunately, have to work. I know you would tell me “mahlon, go get that PAPER! You better go get them keys see... you got a comedy key, a sitcom key a movie key , a stand up key ... now go get that drama key now you gonna unlock all that PAPER”. I’ll always hear you. I’m glad every time we said goodbye it was always with a fatherly hug and kiss. So that’s the goodbye I’ll leave it with. #ripPOPS @johnnywitherspoon playing some Johnny Mathis “chances are” in your honour
TMZ also reported that ceremony guests received a colorful program, brightened by Witherspoon’s infectious grin. On the back included his famous Boomerang line: “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!”
Witherspoon passed away Wednesday (Oct. 30) at the age of 77 in his Sherman Oaks home. The celebrated actor and comedian was an inspiration for many and starred in numerous critically-acclaimed hits over the span of his five-decade career.
#HappeningNow “He will be loved and he will be remembered for a long long time” @AngelaEGibbs words during John Witherspoon funeral service. Among the attendees @icecube @christuckerreal @RepMaxineWaters @shawnwayans_ @CedEntertainer Full story @NBCLA 4pm with @TedNBCLA pic.twitter.com/tug2RkAiUd— Armando Aparicio (@armandapari) November 5, 2019