Another legendary performer has sadly left us as it has been reported that veteran actor Wilford Brimley has passed away. Also known as a diabetes education spokesman and the face of Quaker Oats for many years in addition to his acting work, Wilford reportedly died at his home in Utah on Saturday morning. The actor is also said to have been very sick and in an ICU wing of a hospital on dialysis in the days leading up to his death. He was 85 years old.
Born Anthony Wilford Brimley, the Hollywood legend was born in Salt Lake City on Sept. 27, 1934. After dropping out of school and spending a few years serving for the Marines, Brimley would take on a variety of odd jobs, leading to a gig shoeing horses for movies and television productions. With his foot in the door, Brimley was appearing in uncredited roles in movies like Bandolero! and John Wayne’s True Grit by the late 1960’s. He’d later make his first credited movie appearance in The China Syndrome.
Brimley would go on to appear in dozens of roles on both the big and small screens over the next several decades. Horror fans in particular will fondly remember him as Dr. Blair from John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing. He is also acclaimed for his role as baseball team manager Pop Fisher in the 1984’s The Natural alongside longtime friend Robert Duvall. The beloved actor would also land a lead role in the 1985 sci-fi comedy Cocoon from director Ron Howard, portraying the leader of a group of elderly individuals who discover an alien “fountain of youth.” Some other memorable performances from Brimley include In & Out, The Firm, and Did You Hear About the Morgans?.
In addition to acting, Brimley also enjoyed singing on stage. This includes singing at a benefit concert in 1993 for Cal State Northridge’s Jazz Endowment Scholarship Fund. He would also release a jazz album in 2004 called, “this Time, The Dream’s On Me.” Brimley would also perform the harmonica live during an appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in 2011, bringing about raucous applause from the studio audience.
It’s also worth noting that Brimley was well known for his status as a diabetes education spokesperson, appearing in many television commercials and advertisements speaking about the disease. Brimley had also personally met with patients at Veterans Administration hospitals to speak to others dealing with diabetes. This stems from the actor’s own diagnosis of diabetes mellitus in 1979. Because he had spent so many years helping others manage the disease, Brimley was also honored for his lifetime of advocacy by the American Diabetes Association in 2008.
Brimley was previously married to Lynne Bagley from 1956 until her death in 2000. The two had four sons — James, John, William, and Lawrence — during their marriage. He later married Beverly Berry, who is included among his survivors alongside Brimley’s sons and several grandchildren. Beverley and Brimley are also known for founding the nonprofit organization Hands Across the Saddle in 2009. Our thoughts go out to her and the rest of Brimley’s family and friends at this difficult time. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from TMZ.