Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Absence of Wilford Brimley

 

The great character actor Wilford Brimley passed at the age of 85. He had many memorable film roles, a very funny and active-until-the-end Twitter account, and was a former rodeo rider, blacksmith, Marine, security guard for Howard Hughes, and stuntman before his acting career began.

Though I can quickly remember many of his roles, the one that stays in my mind is as a senior Department of Justice attorney in the outstanding 1981 movie, Absence of Malice (and that film’s observations about the media, the leak games played by bureaucrats, and the havoc they create for the innocents caught in their web, are even more timely today). It’s too bad that during the last few years the real DOJ didn’t have people like the character Brimley played, at least until Bill Barr showed up.

He’s only in one scene in Absence of Malice but he dominated it. Can’t find the full scene on YouTube so here are portions:

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  1. Arahant Member

    My favorite movie that he was in was Remo Williams: The Adventure Continues.

    • #1
    • August 2, 2020, at 2:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Hoyacon Member

    I liked his “bad guy” role in The Firm. He actually made the lawyers look less evil.

    • #2
    • August 2, 2020, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    “I get paid to be suspicious when I’ve got nothing to be suspicious about.”

    • #3
    • August 2, 2020, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Good memories. Thanks!

    • #4
    • August 2, 2020, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. PHCheese Member

    I first remember him in the China Syndrome with pinko Jane Hanoi Fonda.

    • #5
    • August 2, 2020, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Always amazing how old he seemed – in Cocoon he was only 55 years old. I agree with @gumbymark about how good he was in the very under appreciated Absence of Malice. Great performances also by Melinda Dillon and Bob Balaban (another under appreciated character actor).

    • #6
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:06 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt BartleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    He was great in Absence of Malice. I think that’s the movie where I first noticed him. I loved that line, “I’m pretty smart myself.”

    And in Cocoon he said something like, “It’s like blue steel – a cat couldn’t scratch it!” That always made me laugh. 

    • #7
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Fritz Coolidge

    He absolutely killed me as the grandpa saying goodbye to his grandson in the ending of Cocoon.

    I’d seen that movie before, but that was years before I had a grandson of my own. As such, I could not begin to imagine the pain of such a leave taking and goodbye. He was perfect. And I blubbered.

    RIP Wilford.

    • #8
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:14 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…: The great character actor Wilford Brimley has passed at the age of 85. With many memorable film roles, a very funny and active until the end twitter account, former rodeo rider, blacksmith, Marine, security guard for Howard Hughes, and stuntman before his acting career began.

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    Always amazing how old he seemed – in Cocoon he was only 55 years old. I agree with @gumbymark about how good he was in the very under appreciated Absence of Malice. Great performances also by Melinda Dillon and Bob Balaban (another under appreciated character actor).

    Most of those jobs he had before starting acting will make you old before your time.

    • #9
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    Always amazing how old he seemed – in Cocoon he was only 55 years old.

    50. September 1934 to 1985 when the movie came out.

    • #10
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Michael S. Malone Contributor

    I love the scenes of Brimley and Richard Farnsworth in the dugout as the manager and coach in The Natural. Two old pros whose acting is so natural that it’s like looking at real life. Too bad most young people only know Brimley for his “dia-beetus” commercials.

    • #11
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  12. Hoyacon Member

    • #12
    • August 2, 2020, at 4:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    “I get paid to be suspicious when I’ve got nothing to be suspicious about.”

    Just watched that a few nights ago. I was introduced to him by the TV series “Our House” with Deidre Hall, who had this to say:

    “We lost a great one yesterday,” she said. “Every day with Wilford was a life lesson. Heaven just got a lot more interesting.”

    He was the grandpa with all the right answers; a little too easy, I thought at the time. His character in The Firm was so against my personal typecast that I was amazed how well he did it. You never noticed him acting, seemed the most natural thing in the world (a point made above). Thank you for sharing your talent, RIP.

    • #13
    • August 2, 2020, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce CawardJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    That first clip, about the ass in the briefcase, is one of my favorite speeches in any movie ever.

    I think about it a lot when I watch how the current DOJ conducts its business.

    • #14
    • August 2, 2020, at 6:45 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    My favorite film with WB? Tender Mercies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d40BjDgpdwU

    • #15
    • August 3, 2020, at 1:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Poindexter Member

    Postmaster General in an episode of Seinfeld:

     

    • #16
    • August 3, 2020, at 6:33 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Songwriter Inactive
    SongwriterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I met Wilford Brimley briefly in the mid-1980s. I wrote and produced the advertising music for Braniff Airlines* and Brimley was their spokesperson. Very nice man. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of fellow.

    The head of the ad agency believed that the label “character actor” was a misnomer for Brimley. In his opinion, Brinley was actually a leading man – for regardless the name or occupation of the screen character, Brimley was always being himself, which is what leading men do – play themselves in different settings and costumes.

    • BTW – Brimley’s ads for Braniff brought the airline back from the brink of bankruptcy. Then the airline decided to change ad agencies, dropped Brimley (and me!), and promptly failed.
    • #17
    • August 3, 2020, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  18. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Michael S. Malone (View Comment):

    I love the scenes of Brimley and Richard Farnsworth in the dugout as the manager and coach in The Natural. Two old pros whose acting is so natural that it’s like looking at real life. Too bad most young people only know Brimley for his “dia-beetus” commercials.

    It drove me nuts that the TMZ obit, which seems to most popular, does not mention “Absence of Malice” and is mostly about the diabetes PSAs and the Quaker Oats commercials.

    • #18
    • August 3, 2020, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I liked his “bad guy” role in The Firm. He actually made the lawyers look less evil.

    He shut a mean door.

    • #19
    • August 3, 2020, at 1:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. JayCee Member

    My favorite role was of the “General” in High Road to China, fighting the warlord. There are so many, though.

     

    • #20
    • August 3, 2020, at 3:48 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    One of my favorite movies , I stay with it whenever I come across it and always mention to people that he was only 47 at the time while Newman was 56! And luscious Sally Field was 34. 

    • #21
    • August 3, 2020, at 4:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Hoyacon Member

    JayCee (View Comment):

    My favorite role was of the “General” in High Road to China, fighting the warlord. There are so many, though.

    Whatever happened to Bess Armstrong?

    • #22
    • August 3, 2020, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…: He’s only in one scene in Absence of Malice but he dominated it. Can’t find the full scene on YouTube so here are portions:

    That scene was a real Wilford ex machina. 

    • #23
    • August 3, 2020, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    • #24
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  25. RPD Member
    RPDJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    My favorite movie that he was in was Remo Williams: The Adventure Continues.

    Because of this movie I ended up reading about 30 of the Destroyer novels, which starred the same characters.

    • #25
    • August 4, 2020, at 6:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like