John Witherspoon (born John Weatherspoon; January 27, 1942) is an American comedian and actor who has had roles in several films and television shows.
Witherspoon is best known for his role as Willie Jones for the Friday series, he has starred in films such as Hollywood Shuffle (1987) and Boomerang (1992). He has also made appearances on television shows such as The Wayans Bros. (1995–99), The Tracy Morgan Show (2003), Barnaby Jones (1973), The Boondocks (2005), The Five Heartbeats and Black Jesus (2014). He wrote a film, From the Old School, in which he played an elderly working man who tries to prevent a neighborhood convenience store from being developed into a strip club.
Witherspoon’s career as a stand-up comedian made the transition into acting very easy. His first television appearance was on the 1970s CBS television show Barnaby Jones, which was about a father and daughter-in-law that ran a private detective and investigation firm in Los Angeles. In the episode he appeared in, he played the role of a camp counselor for kids who are drug addicts. The episode he was in was also Sean Penn’s first acting job. Sean played the role of one of the kids that Witherspoon counseled in the camp.
After his appearance in Barnaby Jones, Witherspoon appeared in Good Times, What’s Happening!! and The Incredible Hulk. In 1977, he became a regular on the series The Richard Pryor Show, an NBC American comedy series. This then led to his appearance in WKRP In Cincinnati in 1978 in the fourth season, episode 84. Witherspoon played Detective Davies.