Wilford Brimley, Star of ‘Cocoon,’ ‘The Natural,’ & ‘Hard Target,’ Dead at 85

     August 2, 2020


Movie and TV legend Wilford Brimley has died at age 85. The mustachioed actor carved out an onscreen career lasting nearly 50 years, with roles in CocoonThe NaturalThe Firm, and Hard Target among his most beloved.

Among the numerous outlets reporting on Brimley’s death was The Associated Press, who noted the actor died on Saturday morning while in the hospital. This news was shared by Brimley’s manager, Lynda Bensky. At the time of his death, Brimley was on dialysis and dealing with a number of medical issues. In the hours since Brimley’s passing, celebs have come forward to share their thoughts on social media. One of the most notable tributes comes from Barbara Hershey, Brimley’s co-star in The Natural. She tweeted, “Wilford Brimley was a wonderful man and actor. I had the great pleasure of working with him. He always made me laugh.”

Brimley began his onscreen career as a stunt rider in movies, earning uncredited roles in Westerns like 1969’s True Grit and 1971’s Lawman. From there, Brimley transitioned into TV roles, appearing in Kung FuThe Oregon Trail, and The Waltons. The lovably gruff character actor’s run in the late ’70s and ’80s featured supporting roles in John Carpenter‘s remake of The ThingTender MerciesThe China SyndromeThe Natural, and Cocoon. (It was this run which shot him into prominence.) Over the last 20 years, Brimley slowed down, with a number of supporting roles in indie and TV movies. His last role in a major studio release was in 2009’s Did You Hear About the Morgans? starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. And while Brimley will be known and loved for his movie and TV roles, he may also be best remembered for his work as in commercials, appearing in ads for Quaker Oats and later, Liberty Medical commercials which promoted diabetes awareness.

Rest easy, Mr. Brimley.

Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.