Wilford Brimley Dead at 85; ‘Cocoon’ Star Known for Cranky Characters

When interviewed, Mr. Brimley played down his talent; he described himself as "just a guy, just a guy" from The Powell Tribune from Wyoming in 2014. "I can't talk about acting," he said. "I don't know anything about it. I was fortunate enough to be hired.

Anthony Wilford Brimley was born on September 27, 1934, in Salt Lake City. His father, a real estate agent, sold the family farm in 1939 and moved his family to Santa Monica, California.


Tony, as he was known, dropped out of school at the age of 14 and worked as a cowboy in Idaho, Nevada and Arizona before joining the Marine Corps, which sent him to the Aleutian Islands. After leaving the service, he worked as a farm assistant, wrangler and blacksmith. In short, he was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes.

He began to shoe horses for western television and cinema films, and gradually took on non-speaking roles on horseback. He appeared as a stuntman on "Bandolero!", In an uncredited role on "True Grit" and as a blacksmith on the television series "Kung Fu".

After "The China Syndrome", he worked constantly. He played Harry, the former country singer manager played by Robert Duvall, in "Mercies" and eccentric tycoon Bradley Tozer in Tom Selleck's adventure film "High Road to China", before returning to the role of Ben Luckett in "Cocoon: The Return".


From 1986 to 1988, he played a leading role as Gus Witherspoon, the opinionated but kind grandfather of the NBC series "Our House", once again confusing the usual Hollywood aging process by portraying, in his early 50s, a character who was 65 years old.

"I'm never the protagonist," he told The Dallas Morning News in 1993. "I never understand the girl. And I never take my shirt off. I started out by representing parents with guys who were 25 years older than me.”


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