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Wilford Brimley
Born Allen Wilford Brimley
September 27, 1934 (1934-09-27) (age 75)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1969–present
Spouse(s) Lynne Brimley (deceased)

Allen Wilford Brimley (born September 27, 1934),[1] better known as Wilford Brimley, is an American actor.[2] He has appeared in such films as The China Syndrome[3] and Cocoon.[4] Brimley is also known for appearing in television commercials, including ads for Quaker Oats[5] and Liberty Medical.[6]


Personal life

Brimley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah[7], where his father worked as a real estate broker.[8]

Diagnosed with diabetes in 1979, Brimley began working to raise awareness of the disease. The American Diabetes Association[9] (ADA) honored Brimley in 2008[10] with an award to recognize his lifetime of service in this venerable cause.[11] Brimley has been active visiting Veterans Administration hospitals and communities to advise patients on how to manage their diseases. The ADA presented the award to the actor at the Port St. Lucie headquarters of Liberty Medical on December 19, 2008.[12]

Brimley is an activist, paying from his own funds for ads to have Utah allow horse-race gambling[13], and he was actively opposed to the banning of cockfighting in New Mexico.[14] Brimley enjoys playing poker[15] and has played in the World Series of Poker Main Event.[16] Brimley lent his support to John McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[17] In the days leading up to his selection for vice president, McCain stated that he would pick Brimley: "He's a former Marine and great guy and he's older than I am, so that might work."[18]


Before his career in acting, Brimley worked as a ranch hand[19], wrangler[20], blacksmith[21], and a bodyguard[22] for Howard Hughes.[23] He then began shoeing horses for film and television. He began acting in the 1960s as a riding extra in Westerns and as a stunt man at the urging of his friend, actor Robert Duvall.[24]

Brimley became famous later in life for appearing in such films as The Hotel New Hampshire[25], John Carpenter's The Thing[26], and Cocoon.[27] In 2001, he starred in the Turner Network Television film Crossfire Trail[28] with Tom Selleck. He had an important role in The China Syndrome.[29] He often plays a gruff or stodgy old man, notably on the 1980s drama series Our House. His first characterization was in Absence of Malice, in which he played a small but key role as a curmudgeonly, outspoken James A. Wells[30], Assistant U.S. Attorney General. He expanded on this characterization in The Natural, as the world-weary manager of a hapless baseball team.

Brimley was cast in the 1983 film Tender Mercies due to the urging Robert Duvall, who was not getting along well with director Bruce Beresford and wanted "somebody down here that's on my side, somebody that I can relate to."[31] Beresford felt Brimley was too old for the part, but eventually agreed to the casting. Brimley, like Duvall, clashed with the director; during one instance when Beresford tried to advise Brimley on how Harry would behave, Duvall recalled Brimley responding: "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."[31]

In a change from his "good guy" roles such as those in Our House, he played William Devasher, the ominous head of security for Bendini, Lambert & Locke in the Tom Cruise film The Firm[32] (1993), based on the novel by John Grisham.

Brimley has frequently appeared in commercials, notably a series of commercials he did for Quaker Oats[33] Oatmeal throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Quaker commercials were famous for their slogan: "It's the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it." Brimley is also known for appearing in numerous television advertisements for Liberty Medical, a company specializing in home delivery of medical products such as diabetes testing supplies.


Year Film Role Notes
1968 Bandolero! Stunts (uncredited)
1969 True Grit Stunts (uncredited)  
1971 Lawman Stunts (uncredited)  
1976 The Oregon Trail Ludlow television movie
1977 The Oregon Trail Unnamed role Episode "Hard Ride Home and the Last Game"
1979 The China Syndrome Ted Spindler  
The Electric Horseman Farmer  
1980 Brubaker Rogers  
Borderline Scooter Jackson  
1981 Absence of Malice Asst. U.S. Atty. Gen. James A. Wells  
1982 Death Valley The Sheriff  
The Thing Dr. Blair  
1983 Tender Mercies Harry  
10 to Midnight Captain Maline  
High Road to China Bradley Tozer  
Tough Enough Bill Long  
1984 Harry & Son Tom Keach  
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor Noa Briqualon  
The Hotel New Hampshire Iowa Bob  
The Stone Boy George Jansen  
The Natural Pop Fisher  
Country Otis  
Terror in the Aisles archival footage
1985 Cocoon Benjamin Luckett  
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Harold Smith  
Shadows on the Wall Theater Owner  
Murder in Space Dr. Andrew McAllister  
1986 Jackals Sheriff Mitchell  
1987 End of the Line Will Haney  
1988 Cocoon: The Return Benjamin Luckett  
1989 Eternity King/Eric  
1993 The Firm William Devasher  
Hard Target Uncle Douvee  
1994 Heaven Sent Security Guard  
1995 Mutant Species Devro  
Last of the Dogmen Narrator (uncredited)  
1996 My Fellow Americans Joe Hollis  
1997 In & Out Frank Brackett  
Lunker Lake The Storyteller  
1998 A Place to Grow Jake  
Progeny Dr. David Wetherly  
Chapter Perfect Chief Hawkins  
All My Friends Are Cowboys Charlie  
Summer of the Monkeys Grandpa Sam Ferrans  
2000 Comanche    
2001 PC and the Web    
Brigham City Stu  
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple Deputy Sheriff Ambrose Scraggs  
Crossfire Trail Joe Gill  
2002 Resurrection Mary Morty  
The Round and Round Governor  
2003 The Road Home Coach Weaver  
2009 The Path of the Wind Harry Caldwell Completed (to be released)


Year Show Episode Role Notes
1997 Seinfeld #161 - The Junk Mail United States Postmaster General Henry Atkins


  1. ^ "Wilford Brimley biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
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  8. ^ "Wilford Brimley Biography". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
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  12. ^ Blandford, Laurie K. (2008-12-19). "Actor Wilford Brimley surprised with award from American Diabetes Association in Port St. Lucie". TCPalm: Florida's Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches News. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
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  14. ^ Barnes, Peter (2005-02-23). "Cockfighting still legal in New Mexico. N.M. Panel Rejects Cockfighting Ban Plan.". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
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  16. ^ 32nd Annual World Series of Poker
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  24. ^ Wilford Brimley Biography - Yahoo! Movies
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  31. ^ a b Bruce Beresford (actor), Robert Duvall (actor), Gary Hertz (director). (2002-04-16). Miracles & Mercies. West Hollywood, California: Blue Underground. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
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