The Thing Actor, 'Diabeetus Guy,' And Andy Reid Look-Alike Wilford Brimley Is Dead At 85

Wilford Brimley in Did you Hear About the Morgans? 2009

Wilford Brimley, a veteran actor known for character work on movies and TV as well as for a variety of ads over the years, is dead at 85. The actor was allegedly sick for a couple of months before succumbing to illness in Utah on Saturday morning.

Reports broke late over the weekend indicating that Brimley had been on dialysis for some time and had recently been in the ICU treating his kidney illness. He was hospitalized in St George, Utah, which is where he passed away over the weekend, according to TMZ.

Famously, Wilford Brimley was known for his Quaker Oats ads and for telling people to eat the oats because "it's the right thing to do." He also was a spokesperson in the U.S. for diabetes, where he is known to a generation of people as the “diabeetus guy.” In 2008, he was even lauded by the American Diabetes Association for his lifetime advocacy. Yet, he had a rich career on the big and small screen as well, appearing in movies such as The Thing, Hard Target and The Natural. His last movie role was in 2017’s I Believe.

Prior to his movie roles, he’d really gotten a start on TV, with minor stints on Kung Fu and on The Oregon Trail. He had a bigger part playing Horace Brimley in The Waltons in the ‘70s before transitioning to the big screen. He's also known for a notable episode of Seinfeld in the '90s, which had him playing a Postmaster General. The episode, "The Junk Mail," had him parodying his earlier role in Absence of Malice. It also had Kramer trying to stop the Postal Service from being able to deliver.

Just a few short months ago, Wilford Brimley was back in our minds thanks to Super Bowl LIV, during which Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was front and center on our TV screens. Hilariously, the coach looked a lot like Wilford Brimley, who was active on social media at the time. The look-a-likes went viral online and Brimley even responded to a slew of amused and confused fans, noting he’s not Reid but rather the “diabeetus guy," known for working with Liberty Medical over the years.

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In fact, Wilford Brimley was often active on social media with his fanbase and as recently as a few days ago was engaging with them over silly concepts like what his wrestling name would be. He was still engaging with his fans regularly despite fighting his illness for the past two months.

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Clearly the actor and musician had a lot of verve for life (and a mustache to match that vigor). Our thoughts go out to Wilford Brimley's wife and his three children during this time.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.