Fred Willard, ‘Salem’s Lot’ Actor, Passes Away At 86

Emmy-nominated comedian Fred Willard–who passed away May 15–had a serious side as well, as evidenced by his roles in such horror films as Salem’s Lot and Idle Hands.

Willard–best known for his numerous film and TV comedic roles–passed away from natural causes at age 86, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Willard’s daughter Hope said the actor passed “very peacefully. He kept moving, loving and making us happy until the very end. We will miss him forever.”

Horror legend Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) took to Twitter to remember Willard. “How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” she wrote. “Thanks for the deep belly laughs, Mr. Willard.”

Willard portrayed realtor Larry Crockett in the Tobe Hooper TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. In the 1979 film–widely considered one of the best adaptations of King’s novels–Willard’s Crockett dealt with the mysterious antique dealer, Mr. Straker (played by James Mason), who eventually brutally murders him.

For Idle Hands, a 1999 horror/comedy, Willard portrayed Gary Tobias, an off-screen victim of his son, who has a serious problem when his right hand becomes possessed and is committing horrific murders.

The teenager’s hand takes on a terrible life of its own even after being severed from his arm. The film’s title stems from the old adage, “Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings”.

Willard–who is survived by his daughter and grandson–gained fame from his roles in such TV series as Modern Family and Everybody Loves Raymond and his big screen appearances in Anchorman and This Is Spinal Tap.

The staff of Horror News Network would like to offer our condolences to Willard’s family and friends.

Thomas Tuna
Thomas Tuna
Thomas A. Tuna is a comic book veteran who began his writing career back in the ’70s with Charlton Comics, contributing to such horror titles as Ghost Manor, Haunted, The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves and Ghostly Haunts. Most recently, he has served as a writer and editor (with more than a smattering of horror yarns) for such comic book websites as Hyper Epics and Red Moon Features. Some of his favorite horror flicks include Jaws, Salem’s Lot, Dracula (with Frank Langella) and Blade. His favorite horror comic books? Tomb of Dracula (by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan) and Swamp Thing (by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson).

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