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Wilford Brimley dead at 85

From left, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn and Don Ameche in 1985's Cocoon.
From left, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn and Don Ameche in 1985's Cocoon. Brimley died Aug. 1 at age 85. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Wilford Brimley — the lovable actor whose resume reaches back into the late 1960s and who seemed to have been born at (at least) 50 years old — died Saturday morning at 85, his publicist told The Hollywood Reporter, and others. 

Brimley gained fame on The Walton but played so many iconic roles over the years, from good-guy company man Ted Spindler in The China Syndrome (1979), to Wells in Absence of Malice (1981) and Dr. Blair in The Thing (1982), or Pop Fisher in The Natural (1984). 

And of course there's the unforgettable Cocoon, which saw Brimley (who was all of 50 when the movie was shot) alongside the Don Ameche and Hume Cronyn, Gwen Verdon and Jessica Tandy. The film told the story of nursing retirement residents who come across aliens that eventually offer them eternal life. Cocoon won two Academy Awards (best supporting actor for Ameche and best visual effects) and spawned a sequel.

Brimley also was well known for serving as the longtime spokesman of Quaker Oats commercials. 

Brimley's health had struggled recently, his agent, Lyndy Bensky, told THR.

She said Brimley had been on dialysis and had other medical issues and was in the ICU in St. George, Utah, ahead of his death. He had lived since 2004 on a ranch in Greybull, Wyoming.

"Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust," Bensky noted. "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."

Brimley was the sort from a generation that you could easy describe as gentle, but firm. And so it was a bit of a departure when he played a crooked security chief in the Tom Cruise-led adaption of Michael Chrichton's The Firm in 1993.