Wilford Brimley died on August 1, 2020, at age 85. At the time of his death, the COCOON actor was on dialysis in a hospital in Utah.
“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust,” said Brimley’s manager Lynda Bensky. “He said what he meant, and he meant what he 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.”
The Washington Post detailed Brimley’s start in Hollywood:
After dropping out of high school to join the Marine Corps, Mr. Brimley was a bodyguard for reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes and a wrangler for ranches throughout the West. By the mid-1960s, he was working as a farrier shoeing horses for TV westerns, and he eventually was recruited for stunts.
“I became friends with a fella named Bob Duvall,” he told the Los Angeles Times, referring to the then up-and-coming character actor, whom he met on the set of “Cimarron Strip” in 1967 and who would go on to play celebrated roles in “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “I met him on one of them horse opera TV deals. I was fascinated with what he was able to do as an actor. I’d never see anything like it.”
Brimley also appeared in several westerns like TRUE GRIT (1960) and the TV series GUNSMOKE. He also had a recurring role on the wholesome show THE WALTONS.
In 2017, Brimley played a pastor in the faith-based movie I BELIEVE. The movie’s director Jurgen Peretzki knew that Brimley would be perfect for the role when it came time for casting.
“I woke up one morning and Wilford came to mind for the role of the pastor,” said Peretzki. “We sent the script to his agent, Wilford loved it, and my wife and I drove to Utah to meet him at his house to talk more about the movie. needless to say, he came on board and joined us for filming in Los Angeles. I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the part. Wilford was a natural and had great instincts.”
In his later years, Brimley appeared in many TV commercials for Liberty Medical and Quaker Oats.
The acting community posted their thoughts about the late actor on social media,
1/3 We lost a truly great human being & an incredible actor tonight. Starting out as a horse wrangler, Willford Brimley became a versatile character actor who could do any genre; drama, comedy,horror. I’ll never forget Wilford Brimley telling me the best direction he ever got… pic.twitter.com/OELY0T10Yv
3/3 he told the DP, “What the hell is all THIS?! Take that sh#t DOWN! He’s gotta be able to MOVE!”
“Now Will, just keep your life between that chair and this counter and I got you.”
In other words, the director TRUSTED his actor that he knew what he was doing. & Will was awesome! pic.twitter.com/3NbRc22POI
Brimley is survived by his wife Beverley and his four sons.
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