UTAH—Wilford Brimley, an actor who was known for his roles in “Cocoon,” “The Natural” and “The Firm,” died in a hospital in St. George, Utah on Saturday, August 1. Brimley had been at the ICU due to medical ailments and was on dialysis. He was 85.
“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust. He said what he meant and he meant what he said,” Brimley’s manager Lynda Bensky said. “He had a tough exterior and a tender heart. I’m sad that I will no longer get to hear my friend’s wonderful stories. He was one of a kind.”
Brimley began his acting career in the 1960s as a riding extra and stunt man in Westerns. He first came on the screen when playing the role of the Walton’s Mountain resident Horace Brimley in the 1970s television series “The Waltons.” Brimley played Ted Spindler in 1979 film “The China Syndrome,” which was his first credited feature film performance.
In 1983, Brimley’s close friend Robert Duvall referred him to the director Bruce Beresford, and Brimley was later selected to play the role of Harry in “Tender Mercies.” He appeared in the 1984 sports film “The Natural” as Pop Fisher, and in 1985, Brimley portrayed the role of Ben Luckett in the film “Cocoon,” which was also his first time playing the leading role.
In addition to the acting career, Brimley often appeared in commercials including advertisements for Liberty Medical, a company featuring medical products such as diabetes testing supplies, and Quaker Oats.
Brimley was diagnosed with diabetes in 1979 and since then, he began to raise people’s awareness of the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) gave him an award in 2008 to honor his effort.
Brimley supported horse-race gambling and cockfighting, claiming it’s an individual right.
Brimley’s first wife Lynne Bagley died in 2000, and he married Beverly Berry in 2007. He is survived by Berry, and his four sons from the first marriage, James Charles, John Michael, William Carmen, and Lawrence Dean.