American actor and singer Wilford Brimley passed away on August 1, 2020, at age 85. Brimley was hospitalized in St. George, Utah, where he was being treated for medical problems and was on dialysis.
Brimley, born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 27, 1934, has had a long history on the screen. His breakout roles occurred in the 1970s, as Horace Brimley on The Waltons. Brimley had seven appearances on the show in between the years of 1974 and 1977.
Brimley went on to star in movies such as The China Syndrome, Absence of Malice, and Tender Mercies, during which Brimley got into a disagreement with director Bruce Beresford as to how to play his character, Harry. Brimley’s friend and co-star Robert Duvall quoted Brimley as saying to Beresford: “Now look, let me tell you something, I’m Harry. Harry’s not over there, Harry’s not over here. Until you fire me or get another actor, I’m Harry, and whatever I do is fine ’cause I’m Harry.”
Brimley also performed in the films The Thing, Cocoon, The Natural, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, and The Firm, as well as a memorable guest appearance on Seinfeld as the Postmaster General in the episode “The Junk Mail”. He starred on the sitcom Our House as a rough-around-the-edges widower.
Brimley also served as a spokesman for Quaker Oats and Liberty Mutual. He also had an underrated music career, having sung with the Cal State Northridge Jazz Band for a benefit concert in 1993, and having released his own jazz album in 2004, This Time, The Dream’s On Me. He also gave a lively rendition of “Oh! Susanna” on a 2011 episode on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Brimley is survived by his wife, Beverly, and three sons.