Wilford Brimley, 'Cocoon' and 'Natural' actor, dies at 85

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AP2009

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2009 file photo, Actor Wilford Brimley attends the premiere of 'Did You Hear About The Morgans' at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from stunt performer to star of film such as Cocoon and The Natural, has died. He was 85. Brimleys manager Lynda Bensky said the actor died Saturday morning, Aug. 1, 2020 in a Utah hospital. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

LOS ANGELES – 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 morning in a Utah hospital. He was on dialysis and had several medical ailments, she said.

The mustached Brimley was a familiar face for a number of roles, often playing characters 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 in “Cocoon,” in which he was part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them. The 1985 Ron Howard film won two Oscars, including a supporting actor honor for Don Ameche.

Brimley also starred in “Cocoon: The Return,” a 1988 sequel.

For years he was pitchman for Quaker Oats and in recent years appeared in a series of diabetes spots that turned him at one point into a social media sensation.

“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust,” Bensky said in a statement. “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.”

Barbara Hershey, who met Brimley on 1995′s “Last of the Dogmen,” called him “a wonderful man and actor. ... He always made me laugh.”