Anthony Johnson, the comedian known for his roles in films such as Friday and House Party, has died. Johnson reportedly passed away earlier in September after he was found unresponsive and "lifeless" in a store, the actor's nephew confirmed to TMZ. He was "rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead." The actor's representatives separately confirmed his passing to The Wrap. He was 55. Johnson's cause of death has not yet been released.
Born in Compton, California, in 1965, Johnson was born into show business, with 97.9 The Box noting that his father was a Hollywood stuntman. Johnson got his own start in the business in 1982, though he did not get his big break until 1990 when he landed the role of E.Z.E. in House Party. He went on to perform stand-up across L.A. while also appearing in titles like Lethal Weapon 3 and Menace II Society before ultimately landing his breakout role as Ezal in the 1995 comedy Friday opposite Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. The film was a commercial hit and grossed $27 million at the box office worldwide, according to the Mirror.
RIP Anthony Johnson 🙏🏾🕊 some of the most quotable lines in the original Friday were his pic.twitter.com/Pvzz8Y2sro— DARIUS A (@iamdariusalford) September 20, 2021
As news of Johnson's passing broke Monday morning, many of those in Hollywood and those who knew him personally took to social media to react. Fellow comic Rickey Smiley shared a photo of Johnson on Twitter with a message over top reading, "Comedian AJ Johnson. Rest in Paradise." Another person said Johnson was "a very good entertainer and character actor, especially when it came to black cinema." Somebody else remembered Johnson as "one of the funniest and humble comedians back in the 90's and stared in some of the classics like Friday, I Got the Hook Up, House Party and more."
In addition to Friday and House Party, Johnson's other film credits include House Party 3, How to Be a Player, I Got the Hook Up, Hot Boyz, and I Got the Hook Up 2. He also had a number of TV credits to his name, including The Bold and the Beautiful, Martin, Def Comedy Jam, South Central, The Parent 'Hood, Moesha, Malcom & Eddie, and The Jamie Foxx Show. In addition to acting and stand-up, Johnson also appeared in Dr. Dre's "Dre Day" music video in 1992, portraying Sleazy-E, a parody character of E.Z.E. He later reprised the role in Eazy-E''s video for "Real Muthaphuckkin G's" in 1993.