Character actor Fred Willard is remembered in a number of mockumentaries, the most telling of which was the Best in Show. Cast in that flick as the clueless dog show commentator. his portrayal was actually the antithesis to his opinion of dog shows and their operators. He was funny enough, to make funny his own beliefs. The real-life Willard was not only savvy about animals, but he was also one of their most prominent advocates.
As a staunch PETA supporter, Fred’s comedic approach in acting put just the right sping on life's serious topics, including "the underestimated intelligence of animals as well as the importance of spaying and neutering and adopting animals from shelters."
2017 Editorial by Willard
In a scathing 2017 editorial in the Daily News, Willard told it as he saw it. In his review, he saw the addition of cats to the Westminster Kennel Dog Show as an absurd juxtaposition, as well the preference for pedigreed pets over rescued cats and dogs.
“Not only is throwing cats into a venue packed with dogs pretty nuts, so is the whole premise of the Westminster Kennel Club: promoting the breeding and purchasing of animals, especially when we are in the midst of a homeless-animal crisis so massive, it makes Lady Gaga’s halftime show look like a school production of ‘Mary Poppins,'” asserted Willard.
Adoption of Pets
Supporting the adoption of homeless pets, Willard was quick to point out the idiocy of purchasing cats and dogs from breeders while millions of loving animals wait in shelters for someone to give them a forever home.
In a public service announcement for PETA, he asked viewers if they’d "pay $5 for a blade of grass, $10 for a glass of tap water, or $50 for a handful of soil, before remarking, 'Pretty silly, huh?' … With all those lives at stake, I hope you’ll always adopt, and never buy.”
He frequently spoke for the animals often overlooked by humans, including his clever “fishbowl therapy” PSA that showed what life was like for a sensitive Beta fish who had been confined alone to a cramped bowl just so that it could be used as a prop for someone's decor.
“Fish should be left in their natural habitat,” the improv genius noted. In a Rodney Dangerfield reflective moment, he said: “they don’t get the respect they deserve.”
Sadly, Actor Fred Willard died Friday, May 15, 2020, of natural causes at the age of 86. The world not only lost a gifted thespian, but his hard work in speaking up for those who cannot speak was also more than commendable. In a world that is more impressed with pedigree, than a loving addition to a family, Fred Willard will be sorely missed.
Primary Source: PETA