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.”