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Wilford Brimley was a prolific character actor

Wilford Brimley, the folksy character actor famous for his roles in films including “Cocoon,” “The Natural” and “The Firm,” has died. He was 85.

The mustachioed star – a former Marine who served in the Korean War – got his start in John Wayne’s 1969 Western “True Grit” and TV’s “Gunsmoke.” He was widely recognized for his work as a spokesman for Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical Supply.

His manager Lynda Bensky confirmed to The Associated Press that the actor died Saturday morning at a hospital at his home state of Utah, where he was on dialysis and being treated for diabetes and other medical ailments.

Fans recognized Brimley for roles like his grizzled baseball manager in “The Natural” opposite Robert Redford’s bad-luck phenomenon. He also worked with Redford in “Brubaker” and “The Electric Horseman,” and played a gruff district attorney in “Absence of Malice.”

Brimley (l) in The Natural with Robert Redford and Glenn Close

But his best-known work was in 1985’s “Cocoon,” in which Brimley was part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them. The Ron Howard film won two Oscars, including supporting actor for Don Ameche. Brimley later starred in the 1988 sequel “Cocoon: The Return.”

Wilford Brimley and Maureen Stapleton starred in 1985’s “Cocoon.”

Brimley, born Sept. 27, 1934, in Salt Lake City, worked as a blacksmith, ranch hand, horse trainer and bodyguard (for Howard Hughes) before finding fame.

“I am who I am, no matter what role I am playing. It’s all me,” Brimley told USA WEEKEND in 1987. “In my acting and in my life I try to be simple and tell the truth and I don’t like to pretend.”

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