LOS ANGELES — Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from movie stunt rider to indelible character actor in films including “Cocoon” and “The Natural,” 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.”
Brimley’s pitchwork for Liberty Mutual had turned him into an internet sensation for his drawn out pronunciation of diabetes as “diabeetus.” He owned the pronunciation in a tweet that drew hundreds of thousands of likes earlier this year.
Brimley is survived by his wife Beverly and three sons.