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John Witherspoon

Source: General / Radio One

John Witherspoon had a prolific career, co-starring in three “Friday” films, appearing on “The Wayans Bros.” television series and voicing the grandfather in “The Boondocks” animated series. His film roles included “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Boomerang,” and he was a frequent guest on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Born on January 27, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan,  he changed his last name from Weatherspoon to Witherspoon and was one of 11 siblings. His older brother, William, became a songwriter for Motown, with whom he penned the lyrics of the 1966 hit single “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”.

Another sibling, Cato, was a director of the PBS-TV Network/CH56 in Detroit. His sister, the late Dr. Gertrude Stacks, was a pastor at Shalom Fellowship International, a church in Detroit.

Witherspoon had a passion for music and learned to play the trumpet and French horn. But perhaps his greatest gift to the world was that of laughter, as his film and television appearances continue to entertain those young and old to this day.

Tom Joyner’s Flashback: On This Day Featuring John Witherspoon  was originally published on