“Comedy relieves you. A lot of times we think we're the only people bothered by certain things. Then you hear a comic say, ‘Don't you hate it when . . .’ And it's ‘Oh, my God! Of course!’”—Actor Fred Willard, quoted in Cal Fussman, “Fred Willard: What I've Learned,” Esquire, January 2011
Almost nobody remembers it today, but it was the faux-talk show Fernwood 2 Night, hatched by All in the Family creator Norman Lear, that introduced America to the talents of Fred Willard. The actor-comedian, who perfectly parodied the unctuousness of gabfest second bananas like Ed McMahon on that series, has gone on to a long career on the small screen. Today marks the 75th birthday of this durable character actor.