Wilford Brimley death: Cocoon star and the face of Quaker Oats during the Nineties dies aged 85

Actor, who was also a talented singer and harmonica player, appeared in a number of TV and film roles during his career

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 02 August 2020 08:14
Wilford Brimley plays 'Oh! Susanna' on The Late Late Show

Wilford Brimley, the Cocoon star known for his roles as gruff, often cranky characters, has died aged 85.

A representative confirmed the news to Deadline. The cause of death was not given, but Brimley had been on dialysis in an ICU in Utah, and been experiencing other medical problems.

Born Anthony Wilford Brimley in Salt Lake City in 1934, Brimley’s first credited feature film role was as Ted Spindler, friend and co-worker to Jack Lemmon’s character Jack Godell, in 1979’s The China Syndrome.

Throughout his career, Brimley enjoyed a variety of roles in TV and film, including 46 episodes as Gus Witherspoon in the TV drama Our House, and as Blair in John Carpenter's classic science fiction horror film The Thing.

He was also the face of Quaker Oats during the Nineties.

Outside of TV and film, he was an accomplished harmonica player and talented singer, who once performed a lively version of “Oh! Susanna” with a mouth organ on The Late Late Show.

In 1984, he appeared opposite Robert Redford, Glenn Close and Robert Duvall in The Natural, about a man with a natural talent for baseball.

A year later, he starred in Ron Howard‘s Cocoon as Ben Luckett, who leads a group of elderly retirees rejuvenated by peaceful aliens. His final performance was the pastor in 2017 film I Believe.

Brimley is survived by his wife Beverly and their three sons.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments