• Wilford Brimley is an 84-year-old American actor and singer.
• He served in the Marines for three years and worked as a bodyguard for Howard Hughes before entering the movie industry.
• He is well-known for his large mustache, peculiar accent, and brash delivery.
• He has been a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association since 1979 and founded a non-profit organization to assist people in need.
• He is estimated to have a net worth of over $6 million.

Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$14.5 Million
Date Of BirthSeptember 27, 1934
SpouseBeverly Berry (m. 2007), Lynne Brimley (m. 1956–2000)
FactWas a bodyguard to Howard Hughes.

Who is Wilford Brimley?

Born under the air sign of Libra on 27 September 1934, in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Anthony Wilford Brimley was an American actor and singer. He never intended to be an actor – 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 from 1979, he was a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), promoting education about the disease.

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 in 1950; 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 US 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, however, Brimley was also widely recognized for his commercials for Quaker Oats, and for his diabetes advocacy.

Later Works

His good friend, Robert Duvall 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”, Wilford 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.

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 remained 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 was a highly skilled jazz singer – critics have described him as a singer with ‘a warm, rich voice, and  performed regularly with various bands, mostly for fundraising purposes or on very special occasions. In 2004, he released the album “This Time, The Dream’s On Me”, inspired by the works of musicians Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. He also played 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: Did Wilford Brimley Marry? Did He Have Any Children?

In 1956, he married his first wife, Lynne Bagley  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 curve ball.’

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 was a devout Mormon.

Is He Dead Or Alive? Net Worth.

Wilford died on 1 August 2020, aged almost 86, devoting most of his later years 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.

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General Info

Full NameWilford Brimley
Net Worth$14.5 Million
Date Of BirthSeptember 27, 1934
Height1.73 m
ProfessionBodyguard, Wrangler, Actor, Singer, Farmer, Blacksmith


SpouseBeverly Berry (m. 2007), Lynne Brimley (m. 1956–2000)
ChildrenJohn Brimley, Bill Brimley, Lawrence Dean Brimley, Jim Brimley


MoviesThe Thing, Cocoon, The Firm, The Natural, The China Syndrome, Absence of Malice, Hard Target, Crossfire Trail, In & Out, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Tender Mercies, My Fellow Americans, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, High Road to China, The Stone Boy, Brubaker...
TV ShowsOur House, The Boys of Twilight

Social profile links


1[on Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)]: It was somewhat of a substandard movie.
2I thought The Thing stunk. The instant [John Carpenter] said, 'Action,' I knew I was in deep water.
3I just try to be myself. (on his acting technique)
4Look, I like people very much. I'm not very good with people, but that doesn't mean I don't like them. I do like them. Because we actors are on that great big screen and so many people see us, we become familiar. People speak to us as if they've known us all our lives. That just tickles me to death.


1Is a talented jazz singer who has recorded several albums and played successful club engagements.
2Wilford's paternal grandfather was an English immigrant, born in Blackrod, Lancashire, while Wilford's paternal grandmother's parents were Scottish, from Glasgow. Wilford's mother was of half Danish descent, with her other roots being Welsh, English, German, and Swiss-German.
3Was often mistaken for the trolley conductor in the 1991 Hardee's (now Carl's Junior) TV commercials for the Frisco Burger.
4Father was a real estate broker.
5His first acting roles were in the 60s as a riding extra/stuntman in westerns. At that time he used the name Anthony (Tony) Brimley.
6A controversial activist, he paid from his own funds for ads to have Utah allow horse-race gambling, and he was actively opposed to the banning of cockfighting. He has campaigned in Arizona and New Mexico against laws banning cockfighting.
7Had a recurring role on The Waltons (1971). At the prodding of series star Ralph Waite, Brimley became a charter member of Waite's Los Angeles Actors Theater.
8Known for his Quaker Oats commercials.
9Known to loosen up cast mates, with small practical jokes, between takes. For example, while filming Cocoon: The Return (1988), Courteney Cox was caught off guard by whoopee cushion pranks.
10Has four sons with his wife, Lynne Brimley: Jim Brimley, John Brimley, Bill Brimley, and Lawrence Brimley (deseased).
11Enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict and spent three years in the Aleutian Islands.
12Has diabetes and has served as a spokesperson for the diabetes testing-supplies company Liberty Medical.
13Was a bodyguard to Howard Hughes.




In & Out1997Frank Brackett
Chapter Perfect1997Chief Hawkins
My Fellow Americans1996Joe Hollis
Last of the Dogmen1995Narrator (uncredited)
The Good Old Boys1995TV MovieC.C. Tarpley
OP Center1995TV MovieAdm. Troy Davis
Walker, Texas Ranger1995TV SeriesBurt Mueller
Mutant Species1994Devro
Homicide: Life on the Street1994TV SeriesHarry 'The Admiral' Prentice
Heaven Sent1994Al (Security Guard)
Hard Target1993Uncle Douvee
The Firm1993William Devasher
Where the Red Fern Grows: Part Two1992VideoGrandpa Will
The Boys of Twilight1992TV SeriesBill Huntoon
Blood River1991TV MovieU.S. Marshal Winston Patrick Culler
Eternity1990/IIKing Eric
Billy the Kid1989TV MovieGov. Lew Wallace
Cocoon: The Return1988Benjamin 'Ben' Luckett
Our House1986-1988TV SeriesGus Witherspoon
End of the Line1987Will Haney
Shadows on the Wall1986Floyd Buckman
Jackals1986Sheriff Mitchell
Act of Vengeance1986TV MovieTony Boyle
Thompson's Last Run1986TV MovieRed Haines
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor1985TV MovieNoa
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins1985Harold Smith
Murder in Space1985TV MovieDr. Andrew McCallister
Cocoon1985Ben Luckett
The Natural1984Pop Fisher
The Stone Boy1984George Jansen
The Hotel New Hampshire1984Iowa Bob
Harry & Son1984Tom Keach
The Firm1983TV SeriesMartin Berry
Tough Enough1983Bill Long
10 to Midnight1983Captain Malone
Tender Mercies1983Harry
High Road to China1983Bradley Tozer
The Thing1982Dr. Blair (as A. Wilford Brimley)
Death Valley1982Sheriff (as A. Wilford Brimley)
Absence of Malice1981Wells
The Big Black Pill1981TV MovieWally Haskell
Borderline1980Scooter Jackson (as A. Wilford Brimley)
Rodeo Girl1980TV MovieBingo Gibbs
Roughnecks1980TV MovieWillie Clayton
Brubaker1980Rogers - Prison Board
Amber Waves1980TV MoviePete Alberts
The Electric Horseman1979Farmer
The Wild Wild West Revisited1979TV MoviePresident Grover Cleveland (as Wilford A. Brimley)
The China Syndrome1979Ted Spindler
How the West Was Won1979TV SeriesSheriff Daniels
The Awakening Land1978TV Mini-SeriesJude McWhirter
The Waltons1974-1977TV SeriesHorace Brimley
The Oregon Trail1976-1977TV SeriesJoseph Burke / Ludlow
Kung Fu1975TV SeriesBlacksmith
Lawman1971Marc Corman (uncredited)
True Grit1969Minor Role (uncredited)
I Believe2017post-productionPastor
Timber the Treasure Dog2016Hawk Jones
Did You Hear About the Morgans?2009Earl Granger
The Path of the Wind2009Harry Caldwell
Pitcher and the Pin-Up2003Coach Weaver
Resurrection Mary2002ShortMorty
The Round and Round2002Governor
PC and the Web2001
Brigham City2001Stu
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple2001TV MovieDeputy Sheriff Ambrose Scraggs
Crossfire Trail2001TV MovieJoe Gill
All My Friends Are Cowboys1998Charlie
Summer of the Monkeys1998Grandpa Sam Ferrans
A Place to Grow1998Jake
Progeny1998Dr. David Wetherly
Lunker Lake1997The Storyteller
Seinfeld1997TV SeriesPostmaster General Henry Atkins


Bandolero!1968stunts - uncredited


The Natural: The Best There Ever Was2016Documentary special thanks


The Men of Outpost 312016Video documentary shortHimself
The Natural: The Best There Ever Was2016DocumentaryPop Fisher / Himself
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson2011-2013TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Born to Ride: Cody Wright and the Quest for a World Title2009Video documentaryNarrator (voice)
Keeper of the Flame2005TV Movie documentaryStoryteller
The China Syndrome: Creating a Controversy2004Video documentary shortTed Spindler
Larry King Live2003TV SeriesHimself
One on One with John Tesh1992TV SeriesHimself
Live with Kelly and Ryan1990TV SeriesHimself
Funny, You Don't Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville1987TV Movie documentaryThe Constitution (voice)
The Making of 'Absence of Malice'1982TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Making of 'The China Syndrome'1979TV Movie documentaryHimself

Archive Footage

The Frollo Show2011-2013TV SeriesHimself
Edición Especial Coleccionista2012TV SeriesDr. Blair
The China Syndrome: A Fusion of Talent2004Video documentary shortTed Spindler
Miracles & Mercies2002Video documentary shortHarry
Twentieth Century Fox: The Blockbuster Years2000TV Movie documentaryBenjamin Luckett
Biography1999TV Series documentaryBen Luckett in 'Cocoon'


Won Awards

2005Golden BootGolden Boot Awards

Nominated Awards

2013Maverick Movie AwardMaverick Movie AwardsBest Supporting Actor: ShortMasque (2012)
1987ACECableACE AwardsActor in a Movie or MiniseriesAct of Vengeance (1986)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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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