Actor Anthony “A.J.” Johnson of “Friday” and “House Party” fame died on Sept. 6 at age 55.
TMZ broke the news on Sept. 20, citing both his rep and his nephew, the latter of whom said Johnson “was found lifeless in a store earlier this month in Los Angeles and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
No cause of death has been announced.
“He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold,” said his agent, LyNea Bell at BH Talent, on social media. “We will be in constant prayer for his entire family including his wife Lexis, three children, brother Edward ‘Peanut’ Smith, sister Sheila, and lifetime manager and friend Mike D.” The agency posted the sad news on Facebook as well:
Johnson grew up in Compton, California, south of Los Angeles. His father, Eddie Smith, was the co-founder of the Black Stuntmen’s Association.
Besides “Friday” and “House Party” and performing regular standup comedy over the years, some of Johnson’s other film and TV credits included “Menace II Society,” “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Moesha,” “Martin,” and “Malcolm & Eddie,” and Dr. Dre music videos.
Actor and rapper Ice Cube tweeted that his late “Friday” costar was a “naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time.”
Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday… https://t.co/gKbYZDZ4Br
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 20, 2021
At least seven cast members of the 1995 movie “Friday” have died. They include Justin Pierce, Bernie Mac, Reynaldo Rey, Zeus Lister and Yvette Wilson.
Film producer Darius Alford tweeted that it was Johnson who has “some of the most quotable lines in the original ‘Friday.'” A clip from the film below shows Johnson’s character, Ezal, a drug addict, trying to pull off a slip-and-fall scam for insurance money.
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
Comedy Hype posted an April 2021 “Unforgotten” episode about the actor, saying Johnson “made the character [Ezal] hilarious and relatable,” and that his lines are the ones most repeated by fans of “Friday.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money for a homegoing service and continuing support of Johnson’s children. Rest in peace, A.J. Johnson.