Actor Wilford Brimley, who starred in Cocoon, one of the most popular science fiction comedies of the Eighties, has passed away at the age of 85. Brimley was born September 27, 1934, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He died August 1, 2020, only two months before his 86th birthday. He had been in a hospital in St. George, Utah, suffering from kidney problems.
Brimley dropped out of high school to enlist in the Marine Corps. He served honorably from 1953 to 1958. After doing his duty to his country and his uniform, he worked as a ranch hand and a blacksmith. This led to his shoeing horses in western movies, which led to his working as a stuntman and extra in westerns, which eventually led to his becoming a respected character actor and singer. He released three albums. Diagnosed with diabetes in 1979, he may have been as well known as a diabetes educator and spokesman as he was as an actor. He also appeared in a series of oatmeal commercials in the ’80s and ’90s for Quaker Oats.
His science fiction credits, in addition to the Oscar-winning Cocoon, directed by SF perennial Ron Howard, include the 1982 version of The Thing and the SF/horror film Progeny in 1998. In 1985, he appeared in Cocoon: The Return, Murder in Space, and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
In addition to Cocoon, Brimley’s most noted roles were in The China Syndrome in 1979, The Natural in 1984, and Our House from 1986 to 1988.
Brimley was married twice. He and his first wife, Lynne Bagley, were married from 1956 to 2000. They had four sons together. He and his second wife, Beverly Berry, were married from 2007 to 2020. Brimley is survived by Beverly, and their three sons.