When comedian John Witherspoon died in 2019, celebrities poured out their memories about working with the legendary performer, including Shawn Wayans.
Wayans and his brother Marlon famously co-starred with Witherspoon in The Wayans Bros., but their on-screen relationship almost never happened. According to Hip Hop DX, Wayans said during Witherspoon’s funeral how he and Marlon fought for Witherspoon to be included in the show. As Wayans said during his speech, NBC didn’t want Witherspoon hired to play the role of Pops.
“We didn’t care; we was like, ‘That’s our pops. That’s it. Take it or leave it,'” he said. “So…the show didn’t get picked up on NBC. But they dangled that carrot in front of us.”
Wayans added that NBC wanted them to hire Danny Glover for the father role. “But we couldn’t see him on there telling me and Marlon, ‘get in here; I’m getting too old for this mess,” he said. It can be assumed that the “getting too old” line was a callback to Glover’s role in Lethal Weapon.
The Wayans Bros. eventually went to Warner Bros., where it became a massive success for The WB network, now known as the CW. Between The Wayans Bros. and Friday, Witherspoon influenced a new generation of viewers in the ’90s and early ’00s. In fact, Ice Cube recently put New Line Cinema on blast for not approving the Last Friday script before Witherspoon’s death so fans could see the cast together again once more.
Witherspoon died in October 2019 from a heart attack. As his death certificate states, Witherspoon suffered from coronary artery disease and hypertension prior to his death. Witherspoon’s resume is filled with iconic projects such as The Richard Pryor Show, Hollywood Shuffle, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (also a Wayans family production), House Party, The Five Heartbeats, The Boondocks, BoJack Horseman and Black Jesus, among others.