Who is Wilford Brimley?

Born under the air sign of Libra on 27 September 1934, in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Anthony Wilford Brimley is an 84-year-old American actor and singer. He never intended to be an actor in the first place – his priority was to serve in the Marines. After his service was done, he changed jobs frequently before becoming an extra in Western movies. This allowed him to gain recognition, before appearing in “The China Syndrome”, “The Thing”, “Cocoon” and many other movies. Wilford is best known as a character actor, recognized due to his large mustache, peculiar accent and brash delivery. A diabetes patient since 1979, he is a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), promoting education about the disease.

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Posted by Wilford. Brimley on Monday, April 24, 2017

Early Life and Education: Growing Up in Utah

Wilford was born into an American family in the state capital. His father was a notable real estate broker in the area, which means that the family was relatively well-off. We don’t know anything about his mother or potential siblings, as Brimley was always a private person. Over the years, he was faced with numerous inquiries about his early life and childhood, but on every occasion he politely refused to answer any and all questions involving such matters.  Living an ordinary life didn’t quite fascinate this young man. In 1950, he dropped out of high school to join the US Marine Corps. Despite being a standout student, he was filled with patriotic vigor and wanted to experience the life of the Marines. He served a total of three years during the Korean conflict, being stationed in the Aleutian Islands, an archipelago in between Alaska and Russia.

Upon being discharged, he found a job as a bodyguard for legendary businessman Howard Hughes, however this didn’t last long, so he went on to work as a blacksmith, a wrangler, a ranch hand. He wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with his life.

Career Beginnings: Using His Connections

Brimley entered the movie industry almost accidentally. He was shoeing horses that were used on film sets, which lead him to meet legendary actor (and later a good friend) Robert Duvall, who suggested that he should try applying for the position of stuntman or riding extra in Western movies.

Wilford Brimley

Wilford was fascinated by this idea and made his debut in 1969 in “True Grit”, later having an uncredited role in “Lawman” in 1971. With two movies under his belt, he was ready for bigger and better thing, and his breakthrough was in “The Waltons”, a hit TV series. In total, Brimley appeared in 10 episodes, which was enough to attract the attention of producers and directors. In 1979, he made an appearance in “The China Syndrome”, starring Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas and Jack Lemmon, and followed this accomplishment with roles in “The Electric Horseman”, “Brubaker”, “Borderline” and “Absence of Malice”. By this time, Wilford had established himself as one of the most skilled character actors, mostly because of his accent and cowboy-like look.

Later Works

Robert Duvall, his good friend, invited him to assume a role in “Tender Mercies” in 1983. The whole shooting process was filled with intricacies, as Duvall didn’t get along with the director, who in turn thought that Robert was trying to get him fired. In 1984’s “The Natural”, he delivered one of his best performances, playing the role of a depressed manager of a baseball team on a losing streak. This was just an overture for his biggest role to date, as the head of an alien-infested geriatric home in Ron Howard’s science fiction drama “The Cocoon”.

Industry experts were skeptical of Brimley’s capabilities, and weren’t sure how he would perform in his first lead role, but he exceeded all expectations. Even though he was only in his 40s, Wilford became the go-to guy when a movie needed a stodgy old man to play a support role, and throughout the 1990s, he mostly played bad guys, with the exception of “The Firm”, a 1993 thriller starring Tom Cruise. From this point onwards, he didn’t appear in any more Hollywood movies, as he was sick of the hustle and bustle one had to endure to be a successful actor. He is still active, mostly in independent productions, such as “Brigham City, “The Path of the Wind”, “Masque” and “PC and the Web”.

Jazz Career

Unbeknownst to most people. Wilford is a highly skilled jazz singer – critics have described him as a singer with ‘a warm, rich voice’. Even today, he regularly performs with various bands, mostly for fundraising purposes or on very special occasions. In 2004, he released an album called “This Time, The Dream’s On Me”, inspired by the works of musicians Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. He also knows how to play the harmonica, which he showcased during a 2011 appearance in “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”, in which he performed a touching cover of “Oh! Susanna!”.

Personal Life: Is Wilford Brimley Married? Does He Have Any Children?

Brimley married his first wife Lynne Bagley in 1956, with whom he had four sons – Jim, John, Lawrence and Bill, and were together until Lynne passed away on 14 June 2000. In 2007, he married Beverly Berry – the couple split time between Santa Clara, Utah and Greybull, Wyoming. Together, they founded the Hands Across the Saddle, a non-profit organization that ‘assists folks with paying rent, small medical bills, or even food for their family when life has thrown them a curveball.’

Brimley was diagnosed with diabetes in 1979 and immediately started educating people about the perils of his condition. His way of pronouncing diabetes as “diabeetus” in Liberty Medical commercials became a widely known internet meme in recent years. Wilford is a devout Mormon.

Is He Dead Or Alive? Net Worth.

Wilford is very much alive. There have been rumors about his untimely death in recent years, mostly because he didn’t appear in public as much as he did before. He’s in good health, and devotes most of his time to his two estates and beloved wife, hopefully enjoying life on his estimated net worth of over $6 million, garnered largely from his acting career of almost 50 years.


Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

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