KEY POINTS

  • Wilford Brimley, best known for his roles in “Cocoon” and “The Firm,” passed away in a Utah hospital on Saturday
  • The 85-year-old actor was on dialysis at the time of his death
  • Ron Howard, Barbara Hershey and more celebrities mourned Brimley's passing and paid tribute to him on social media

Wilford Brimley, known for his roles in "Cocoon" and "The Firm," has passed away at the age of 85.

Brimley died on Saturday morning in a Utah hospital. He had been suffering from a kidney-related ailment for two months and was on dialysis at the time of his death, manager Lynda Bensky said.

Brimley is survived by his wife, Beverly Berry, and three sons.

"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."

Following Brimley’s death, a number of celebrities took to Twitter to mourn his passing and pay tribute to the actor.

 

 

 

On the big screen, Brimley played a number of memorable characters in films such as "The China Syndrome," "Hard Target" and "The Natural." His last role in a major release was in 2009 when he starred in "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" with Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. His television credits include "Kung Fu," "The Oregon Trail" and "The Waltons."

While Brimley is mostly known for his television and film roles, he is also remembered for his appearance in Quaker Oats commercials. In recent years, he became a social media sensation after appearing in a series of diabetes campaigns, thanks to his pronunciation of diabetes as "diabeetus."

Brimley was never trained as an actor and worked his way up to become a reputed performer.

The actor dropped out of high school to join the Marine Corps, and he later worked as a bodyguard for reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes and a wrangler for ranches throughout the West.

He started his onscreen journey in the 1960s by appearing as a stunt rider in films such as "True Grit" and appearing in television series "Gunsmoke."

Brimley’s career took off following his roles as a nuclear power plant engineer in "The China Syndrome" and as a music manager in "Tender Mercies."

"I’ve never been to acting classes, but I’ve had 50 years of training," Brimley told Associated Press back in 1984 (via USA Today). "My years as an extra were good background for learning about camera techniques and so forth. I was lucky to have had that experience; a lot of newcomers don’t."

Brimley said his method was being honest, explaining, "The camera photographs the truth - not what I want it to see, but what it sees. The truth."

Actor Wilford Brimley Actor Wilford Brimley speaks on stage at the 50th Anniversary Stuntmens Gala Honoring Harrison Ford on September 24, 2011 in Universal City, California. Photo: Getty Images/Imeh Akpanudosen