Remembering Actor and Diabetus Spokesperson Wilford Brimley Jr.

Written by Mike Rickard II

I was saddened to learn that longtime Liberty Medical spokesperson Wilford Brimley Jr. has gone on to eternity. Although Brimley had a long career in Hollywood, he’s best known to many for his commercials for Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical’s diabetes (or as he put it, diabetus) products.

According to The Los Angeles Times:

Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from stunt performer to starring roles in films such as “Cocoon” and “The Natural,” has died. He was 85.

Brimley’s manager Lynda Bensky said the actor died Saturday morning in a Utah hospital. He was on dialysis and had several medical ailments, she said.

The New York Times’ obituary on Mr. Brimley discussed how he worked his way up in acting, starting off as a stuntman before finally finding success as a supporting actor in the film The China Syndrome.

The former Quaker Oats spokesperson was modest about his career as noted in his New York Times obit:

When interviewed, Mr. Brimley played down his talent; he described himself as “just a guy, just a feller” to The Powell Tribune of Wyoming in 2014. “I can’t talk about acting,” he said. “I don’t know anything about it. I was just lucky enough to get hired.”

Mr. Brimley’s gruff persona could rub people the wrong way so it’s no surprise I witnessed audience members give a standing ovation during the scene in The Firm where Tom Cruise’s character beats Wilford’s character senseless. Then again, it could just be a fuzzy memory.

The now classic Brimley beatdown

In any event, Mr. Brimley is well-known for his commercials for Quaker Oats and Liberty Mutual medical supplies, so much so that they’ve become the stuff of parody.

Whenever someone said diabetus instead of the traditional pronunciation of diabetes, you knew they were a fan of Wilford’s wonderful work slinging insulin. How could you not enjoy him riding upon a horse and telling you how to get your diabetic medication shipped directly to your home? One almost expected Mr. Brimley to deliver the supplies himself, riding up to your doorstep on his trusty steed.

As Mr. Brimley enters that great dude ranch in the sky, let’s pause to remember his many commercials as well as some pretty cool film roles. Wilford Brimley Jr. may have been the personification of the gruff troublesome old-timer, but he was our gruff, troublesome old-timer.

About the author

Mike Rickard II

Retired bank robber and author of "Wrestling's Greatest Moments", "Laughing All the Way to the Bank Robbery, "Flunky: Pawns and Kings," and "Don't Call Me Bush Beans: The Legend of a Three-Legged Cat." Pro wrestling and hockey fan. Hired gun for several pro wrestling sites and a top 10 YouTube wrestling channel. Available in regular and extra-strength.