John Witherspoon was a magnetic figure ... so it's no surprise most of Hollywood showed up to bid him one last goodbye.
The late comedian's open-casket celebration of life went down Tuesday in L.A. in front of a huge gathering of friends, family and celebs alike. David Letterman commenced the celebration. He and John went way back ... they honed their craft together at The Comedy Store in Hollywood alongside Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Jay Leno.
Ice Cube was one of several speakers and he paid a touching tribute ... saying he enjoyed the hell outta John for as long as he could remember.
Guests at the celebration of life received a colorful program adorned with John's infectious smile. The back-page included one of his most famous lines from "Boomerang" ... "BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!"
As we reported ... John died suddenly last week, at the age of 77, after he went into cardiac arrest at his home in Sherman Oaks, CA.
His career -- which started in stand-up comedy -- spanned more than 5 decades ... and included his unforgettable roles as Ice Cube's father in the "Friday" movies, Granddad on "The Boondocks" and Pops on "The Wayans Bros."
The Witherspoon family's asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Actors Fund or the Angela and John Witherspoon Family Foundation for the Arts.