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Wilford Brimley Dies at 85

Cocoon and The Natural actor 'had a tough exterior and a tender heart'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 2, 2020 5:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from movie stunt rider to an indelible character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included Cocoon, The Natural, and The Firm, has died. He was 85. Brimley’s manager, Lynda Bensky, said the actor died Saturday in a Utah hospital. He was on dialysis and had several ailments, she said. The mustachioed Brimley was a familiar face in a number of roles, like his grizzled baseball manager in The Natural opposite Robert Redford's bad-luck phenomenon. He also worked with Redford in Brubaker and The Electric Horseman. Brimley's best-known work was Cocoon, as part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them. For years he was pitchman for Quaker Oats and in recent years appeared in diabetes ads that turned him into a social media sensation over his pronunciation "diabeetus."

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“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust,” 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.” Barbara Hershey, who met Brimley on 1995's Last of the Dogmen, called him “a wonderful man and actor. ... He always made me laugh.” Brimley amassed an impressive list of credits. In 1993’s John Grisham adaptation The Firm, Brimley starred opposite Tom Cruise as a tough-nosed investigator who was ruthless in keeping his firm’s secrets safe. John Woo, who directed Brimley in 1993's Hard Target, said in 2018 that his part was “the main great thing from the film. I was overjoyed ... especially working with Wilford Brimley.” A Utah native who grew up around horses, Brimley drifted into movies in the 1960s, in such films as True Grit, and TV series like Gunsmoke. “Basically my method is to be honest,” Brimley told the AP. “The camera photographs the truth—not what I want it to see, but what it sees. The truth.”

(Read more Wilford Brimley stories.)

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