Beloved actor and TV pitch man Wilford Brimley died at age 85, leaving behind a career full of interesting roles and unforgettable commercials. Brimley, who for some will be remembered more as a spokesperson than an actor, died according to a report in Variety that noted he had a kidney issue over the last few months.
Brimley had a series of roles in a wide range of movies, from the manager of the Knights baseball team in The Natural to a notable role in Cocoon.
Pauline Kael ably summed up his appeal in a few words. Reviewing “Cocoon” for the New Yorker in 1985, she said, “Wilford Brimley, with his walrus mustache and friendly belly, brings an ornery impudence to his role.”
Brimley, who seemed to enter old age several decades ago, appeared perfectly at home in the Ron Howard-directed movie about senior citizens unintentionally rejuvenated by an alien life force in the pool where they do water aerobics even though he was only 51 at the time. Brimley’s Ben Luckett doing cannonballs in the pool is one of the most memorable moments in the film. Brimley returned for the 1988 sequel.
For a younger audience, however, Brimley was notorious as a spokesperson. He had a lengthy campaign with Quaker Oats, but also a diabetes-themed campaign for Liberty Medical Supplies, which often featured Brimley on a horse or in some kind of western wear talking about his diagnosis and testing supply needs.
The commercials that aired on daytime television made him synonymous with The Price Is Right and other game shows. John Goodman even played Brimley on a Saturday Night Live parody of his Liberty Medical Supplies commercials. He would later inspire this very weird Vine as well.
Brimley was also active on social media, right up until the end of his life. His last tweet was soliciting people to give him a wrestling name.