Friday Actor Anthony Johnson Is Dead At 55

Ezal (Anthony Johnson) watches Smokey in Friday (1995)

Anthony Johnson, the actor and comedian best known for his roles in films like Friday and House Party has died. The comic reportedly passed away earlier this month and, as of right now, a cause of death has not officially been announced. Johnson was 55 at the time of his passing.

News of Anthony Johnson’s death was confirmed to Deadline by BH Talent’s owner and president, LyNea Bell. In a statement, Bell paid loving tribute to Johnson and expressed her condolences to his loved ones:

The world of comedy has truly been shaken, again. Our BH Talent family is heartbroken about the loss of the iconic legend of stage and screen Mr. Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson. He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold. We will be in constant prayer for his entire family including his wife Lexis, 3 children, brother Edward 'Peanut' Smith, sister Sheila, and lifetime manager and friend Mike D. Please give them the time they need to process and grieve such a huge loss.

The actor, who also went by the stage name A.J. Johnson, was born in Compton, California on May 6, 1965. Johnson’s stand-up comedy career began in earnest in the early ‘90s, during which he appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. It was during that same time that the actor began to venture into the realm of film.

Anthony Johnson landed his first major movie role when he was cast as E.Z.E. in Reginald Hudlin’s 1990 comedy House Party. He would also appear in 1994’s House Party 3, though he would play a different role. Johnson also had roles in movies like Lethal Weapon 3, Menace II Society, B.A.P.S., and The Player’s Club.

However, it was the actor’s role in Ice Cube’s Friday that cemented his place in cinematic history. Anthony Johnson played the role of Ezal, a petty thief who humorously attempts to extort people around his South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Johnson’s comedic performance helped create some of the film’s most memorable scenes, including one that involved a funny exchange between Ezal and Chris Tucker’s Smokey.

In addition to his work in movies, Anthony Johnson was also a fixture within the world of TV sitcoms. During the ‘90s, he appeared on notable shows like Moesha, Martin, The Parent ‘Hood and The Jamie Foxx Show.

It’s fair to say that the performer made some significant contributions to the world of comedy over the course of his career. The sharp timing and lively energy that he brought to his performances will certainly be missed.

We here at CinemaBlend express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Anthony “A.J.” Johnson during this difficult time.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.