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Wilford Brimley, ‘Cocoon’ Star, Dies at 85

Beloved character actor also appeared in such films as ”Absence of Malice“ and ”The Natural“

Wilford Brimley, the beloved character actor who starred in such film as “Cocoon” and “The Natural,” died Saturday at age 85.

He had been sick for two months with a kidney ailment, his agent told the New York Times.

The Utah native found his breakthrough role as a recurring character in the 1970s period drama “The Waltons.” Soon, he played a range of often crotchety characters on the big screen, including a nuclear power plant engineer in 1979’s “The China Syndrome,” a tenacious district attorney in 1981’s “Absence of Malice,” a country music manager in 1983’s “Tender Mercies” and the manager of a perpetually losing baseball team in 1984’s “The Natural.”

His biggest role may have come in Ron Howard’s 1985 hit “Cocoon” as the leader of a group of outcast senior citizens who discover a swimming pool that magically restores their youth — a character that was significantly older than his then age of 49. He reprised the role in a 1988 sequel.

In the 1980s, Brimley also gained famed as the on-camera spokesman for Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical, which sold diabetes-testing kits.

Other notable films included “The Thing” (1982),”High Road to China” (1983), “The Firm” (1993), “In & Out” (1997) and “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” (2009). He also had a cameo as an irascible postmaster general in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.”

After news of Brimley’s passing broke, several celebrities took to Twitter to pay their respects.