Actor Wilford Brimley, famous for his signature moustache and gruff love of oatmeal, has died of renal issues at 85.
Brimley started out in showbiz by riding horses as a stunt man in Westerns in the 1960’s. He didn’t land his first television role until the age of 40, joining popular television series The Waltons as Horace Brimley.
His first film appearance came in 1979’s The China Syndrome beside Jack Lemmon. Brimley finally broke out in the early eighties with powerful supporting roles as a biologist in The Thing, opposite Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies, and as Pop Fischer in The Natural.
At 50, Brimley was cast in his first lead role, starring in Ron Howard’s Cocoon, as a geriatric man who discovers a mystically revitalizing pool in his retirement home. He went on to play memorable parts beside Tom Cruise in The Firm, as Kevin Kline’s father in 1997’s In & Out, and supported Hugh Grant in Did You Hear About the Morgans?
After being diagnosed with diabetes, Brimley became an advocate for disease awareness and the spokesman for Liberty Medical’s national commercials. He also became the very serious face of Quaker Oats, appearing in the brand’s “It’s the right thing to do” campaign.
Fans and co-workers posted tributes on social media. Our House co-star Shannen Doherty said Brimley gave her a horse and taught her how to ski. “He was in fact like a grandpa to me for a very long time,” she posted. “He was talented and will be missed.”
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I met Wilford when we did Our House together. He taught me a lot on that show. He also gave me a horse named Brownie. Taught me how to ski in Utah. Had 2 African Grey’s that would curse and call his dogs only to laugh at them when they came running. He gave big hugs and told great jokes. He was in fact like a grandpa to me for a very long time. He was talented and will be missed. Wilford
The Natural co-star Barbra Hershey posted, “He was a wonderful man and actor.”
Wilford Brimley was a wonderful man and actor.
I had the great pleasure of working with him. He always made me laugh. https://t.co/kkWWr6FAYx
— Barbara Hershey (@BarbaraHershey8) August 2, 2020
Betty Buckley, his Tender Mercies co-star, said that Brimley was a gift to work with.
— Betty Buckley (@BettyBuckley) August 2, 2020
An MLB Network contributor tweeted: “How I look when I realize Wilford Brimley was only 49 years old when “The Natural” was released.”
How I look when I realize Wilford Brimley was only 49 years old when “The Natural” was released. pic.twitter.com/df7NZP5Onc
— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) August 3, 2020