Actor Fred Willard arrested for masturbating in adult theater

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Comedic actor Fred Willard was arrested on charges of “lewd conduct” July 25 for masturbating at an adult movie theater in Hollywood, according to TMZ.

Authorities conducting what they called a “routine sweep” said they saw the 72-year-old funnyman at the Tiki Theater watching an adult film with his “penis exposed and in his hand.” TMZ reported that Willard was arrested at 8:45 p.m. and released from custody soon afterward.

Willard’s attorney told TMZ that the actor did not violate any laws inside of the theater and that he “will be working vigorously to clear his name in this matter.”

Willard is best known for his film roles in “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” “Anchorman” and “For Your Consideration.” Ironically, his next film project is titled “The Yank.”

A veteran of Chicago’s Second City improvisational troupe, Willard has scored success on television as well, earning three Emmy nods for his recurring role on the TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond” and another Emmy nomination in 2010 for a turn on “Modern Family” as Phil Dunphy’s father. 

In the wake of Willard’s arrest, PBS has fired him as host and narrator of “Market Warriors.”

“Given the unfortunate news reported today, effective immediately, Fred Willard no longer will be involved with the ‘Market Warriors’ series,” said a spkesman for WGBH, the Boston-based PBS station that produces the show.

Paul Reubens, who created the fictional character Pee-wee Herman, had his career upended when he was arrested in 1991 for masturbating in an adult theater in Sarasota, Fla. Reubens pled no-contest to the charge but maintained his innocence and maintained that he could have proven it, if the case had gone to court.

“I'm right-handed and the police report said I was jerking off with my left hand. That would have been the end of the case right there, proof it couldn't have been me," Reubens said in an interview with Playboy.