Wilford Brimley:Mormon Actor
Anthony Wilford Brimley was an American television, movie, and commercial actor.
Brimley was born September 27, 1934, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He dropped out of school at age 14. He worked as a cowboy in Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, before he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served in the Aleutian Islands for three years. He also worked as a ranch hand, wrangler, blacksmith, and a bodyguard for Howard Hughes. He shoed horses for film and television westerns.
At the urging of his friend, actor Robert Duvall, he began acting in the 1960s as a riding extra in Westerns and a stunt man. He had uncredited roles in True Grit and Kung Fu.He had a recurring role in the 1970s television show The Waltons. He played Walton’s Mountain resident Horace Brimley and appeared in seven episodes from 1974 through 1977.
He was cast in the 1983 film Tender Mercies at Robert Duvall’s request. Duvall wasn’t getting along well with the director and wanted someone nearby with whom he could relate. Brimley became well known through character roles in such films as The China Syndrome, High Road to China, The Electric Horseman, Brubaker, The Thing, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Natural, Cocoon, Cocoon: The Return, Crossfire Trail, Absence of Malice, and The Firm. He also starred in the 1980s television drama Our House and appeared in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger and Seinfeld.
“I’m never the leading man,” he told The Dallas Morning News in 1993. “I never get the girl. And I never get to take my shirt off. I started by playing fathers to guys who were 25 years older than I was.”
He was spokesman for many years for Quaker Oats oatmeal and Liberty Medical. Diagnosed with diabetes in 1979, he began working to raise awareness of the disease. He visited Veterans Administration hospitals and communities to advise patients on how to manage their diseases. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) honored Brimley in 2008 with an award to recognize his lifetime of service.
He was also an accomplished singer.
Brimley and his wife, Lynne, married in 1956 and had four sons. She passed away in June 2000. In 2006, Brimley moved to Greybull, Wyoming. He passed away on August 1, 2020. He is survived by his second wife, Beverly.