In recent years, Wilmer Valderrama has distanced himself from his iconic role as Fez on “That 70s Show.” These days, he’s hardly recognizable as shredded Special Agent Nick Torres on the long-running crime drama “NCIS.” Yet no matter what he does for the rest of his career, when people hear the name “Fez,” it will be Wilmer they see in their minds. Now, we have evidence to back that up. It’s tragic, but evidence nonetheless.
Todd Hillier, more commonly known by his radio name—Fez Whatley—was the longtime host of a program called “The Ron and Fez Show.” Originally syndicated by WKRO in Daytona Beach, it eventually moved to WNEW in New York. Tragically, the beloved radio personality and comedian passed away Friday night. After years of dealing with heart attacks, he finally succumbed at the age of 57.
Now, Fez Whatley is trending on Twitter. And it’s not because he was a widely recognized national figure. Though, that’s true to a degree. Part of the reason he’s trending is that when people saw “RIP Fez” on social media, they immediately thought of Wilmer Valderrama. Many didn’t even know the “NCIS” star by name. They just assumed that it had to be the beloved character from “That 70s Show.”
As a result, reactions like the ones included below have been commonplace in the wake of Fez Whatley’s death.
Despite the ‘NCIS’ Star’s Popularity, Plenty of People Mourned the Loss of Fez Whatley Himself
None of this is to say that Fez Whatley wasn’t recognized. On the contrary, there was a huge outpouring of support from his fans and listeners—ones that loved and listened to his show regularly. In fact, his true supporters are responsible for getting him trending in the first place.
“RIP Fez, easily one of the best at keeping a joke a going. Really sad to hear about him passing away. Ron and Fez was one of the greatest shows of all time,” said comedian Dan Soder.
“When he was on his game, NOBODY was funnier than Fez Whatley. He was snarky, biting, fearless, fun to tease and so easy to root for. Whether it’s realized or not, you can’t help but hear the influence of Ron and Fez on the current comedy podcasts. RIP Fez Whatley,” a dedicated fan wrote.
In the end, radio personality Fez Whatley needed no help from Wilmer Valderrama for posthumous recognition. The whole situation speaks more to the impact Valderrama had as a character on a beloved late-1990s/early-2000s sitcom. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Though for a working actor, it probably gets slightly annoying.
Nevertheless, fans of “NCIS” are well aware of Valderrama’s acting range and are relieved to learn he is still alive. That being said, a beloved entertainer did die last night.
RIP Fez Whatley. You will be missed.