Sad news to report as veteran character David Huddleston, best known for his titular part in Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski, passed away on Tuesday. Heart and kidney disease are believed to be the cause of death. Huddleston’s wife Sarah Koeppe, confirmed the news. He was 85-years old.
Huddleston’s career spanned fifty-plus years as he maintained a striking presence on both the stage and the screen. After serving in the Air Force, Huddleston picked up the acting bug, first appearing in touring productions of musicals including The Music Man and Mame. Shortly thereafter he picked up television works on series including Bewitched, The Waltons and Ironside. On the silver screen, he appeared in seminal features including Blazing Saddles and Capricorn One while also maintaining a presence on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild.
It was his performance in The Big Lebowski as billionaire Jeffrey Lebowski that will likely provide Huddleston’s strongest cultural imprint, as he memorably sparred against Jeff Bridges’ “The Dude” in the Coens Brothers feature. While the 1998 comedy wasn’t a big hit at the time of its theatrical release, the cult response to the movie has grown in years and his since become a generational staple. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. Huddleston’s performance in the film encapsulated a recurring trend of portraying cantankerous, rather tempestuous characters. Huddleston’s last film roles were the musical remake of The Producers (2007) and the Uwe Boll’s thriller Postal. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his guest performance in seminal 1990s series The Wonder Years.
Huddleston was 85-years old. He is survived by his wife.