Anthony Wilford Brimley, usually referred only as Wilford Brimley, is an American actor with an interesting career path. He served as a US Marine, was a farmer, worked on a ranch, even became a blacksmith, and finally ended up as an actor. He is one versatile actor and has appeared in movies, TV shows, and even commercials.
Brimley was born on September 27, 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah. When he was in high school, Brimley dropped out to sign up for the US Marines, where he served for three years. He later worked as a bodyguard for Howard Hughes. For some time, he even worked as a ranch hand, and a wrangler. When he gained weight, he became a blacksmith as well. At one point, he was shoeing the horses that were used for shooting movies and TV shows. Unbeknownst to him, the acting world was calling to him, and it came in the form of his friend, Robert Duvall. Duvall suggested that he try his hand at acting, and on his urging, Brimley started from the bottom as one of the extras. He also took stuntman gigs as well in the 1960s. However, his big break was yet to come.
The Waltons was a hit show in the 1970s, and Brimley was cast in the role of Horace Brimley. From 1974 to 1977, Brimley made seven appearances in the role. Although this wasn’t a big role, it brought the gruff-mannered actor the attention that he needed. Within 2 years, Brimley got his first credited appearance in a movie, The China Syndrome (1979). But, it was his brief role as the brusque and stubborn Assistant Attorney, James A. Wells in Absence of Malice (1981) that gave his onscreen characters a lasting persona. He built on this persona to secure similar roles in movies such as The Natural (1984), and Cocoon (1985).
Brimley and Duvall were close friends by now and he was pivotal in securing Brimley in Tender Mercies (1983) for the role of Harry. His down-home image firmly put him as the spokesman for Quaker Oats for several years. After having diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes, Brimley appeared in a number of relevant ads as well.
Brimley appeared in a number of TV shows throughout his acting career, most notably in Our House. In 1993, he played the role of William Devasher, the security head, in the Tom Cruise film, The Firm. After In & Out (1997), he had an on and off relationship with Hollywood, which he traded to follow his other pursuits in the independent film industry. His work from this period include Crossfire Trail (2001), and Did You Hear About The Morgans? (2009), among others. If you have a high speed internet connection, you can watch Brimley's filmography online.
Brimley has been married twice. He was married to his first wife, Lynne Bagley, in 1956 and they had four sons together. They were together until her death in 2000. Brimley remarried Beverly Berry in 2007. Brimley has a keen interest in poker and has played in the World Series of Poker. His lifelong work on spreading awareness regarding diabetes has won him an award from American Diabetes Association (ADA).