Jimmy Kimmel taps Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, more for Fred Willard tribute
Ray Romano, director Christopher Guest, Modern Family's Ty Burrell also shared memories.
Jimmy Kimmel dedicated a portion of his late-night talk show to Fred Willard, the comedy great who used to entertain Kimmel as a kid through the spoof late-night series Fernwood 2 Night. To help share memories of Willard, who died at the age of 86 last Friday, Kimmel also reached out to a number of Willard's friends and colleagues over the years, including Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, director Christopher Guest, producer Norman Lear, Ray Romano, and Julie Bowen.
O'Hara, who worked with Willard in a number of Guest's movies, recalled their time together on 1996's Waiting For Guffman. "Fred was so wildly, inventively funny but also so unbelievably strong in the best way," she said, "and I had no choice but to let go and surrender to Fred's will — to the point of letting him talk me into wearing those sad, unattractive track suits in our audition scene."
"He had an astounding gift, a rare talent that people on the set would watch in wonderment," Guest said. "I'm so grateful to have worked with him on so many films over the years and I will miss him terribly."
Levy kept the ball rolling with another Guest film, 2000's Best in Show, which the Schitt's Creek star co-wrote with the director. "How do you make a dog show funny? The dog show has to be legitimate or it's not gonna work," Levy said. "Chris said, 'What if Fred Willard was the color commentator?' All you had to do was mention Fred Willard as a color commentator and the entire act, you knew, was going to be funny."
Modern Family's Ty Burrell and Bowen shared memories of Willard's performance as Phil's dad, while Romano talked about him as Hank MacDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond and Mull recalled their time on Fernwood 2 Night. "Everybody loved Fred but I loved him enough to marry him, even if it was just on the Roseanne show," Mull also mentioned. "He made a beautiful bride."
Kimmel also shared his thoughts and personal tribute to Willard in the opening monologue. "He was more than just funny. He had a light inside him," he said. "You could see a glint of it in his eyes and it made everyone around him happy."
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