Brimley became famous later in life for appearing in such films as The Hotel New Hampshire, John Carpenter's The Thing, and Cocoon. In 2001, he starred in the Turner Network Television film Crossfire Trail with Tom Selleck. He had an important role in The China Syndrome. He often plays a gruff or stodgy old man, notably on the 1980s drama series Our House. His first characterization was in Absence of Malice, in which he played a small but key role as a curmudgeonly, outspoken James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General. He expanded on this characterization as the world-weary manager of a slumping baseball team in The Natural, a film in which his friend Duvall appeared as an antagonistic sportswriter.
Brimley was cast in the 1983 film Tender Mercies due to the urging of Robert Duvall, who was not getting along well with director Bruce Beresford and wanted "somebody down here that's on my side, somebody that I can relate to." Beresford felt Brimley was too old for the part, but eventually agreed to the casting. Brimley, like Duvall, clashed with the director; during one instance when Beresford tried to advise Brimley on how Harry would behave, Duvall recalled Brimley responding: "Now look, let me tell you something, I'm Harry. Harry's not over there, Harry's not over here. Until you fire me or get another actor, I'm Harry, and whatever I do is fine 'cause I'm Harry."
In a change from his "good guy" roles such as those in Our House, he played William Devasher, the ominous head of security for Bendini, Lambert & Locke in the Tom Cruise film The Firm (1993), based on the novel by John Grisham.
Brimley has frequently appeared in commercials, notably a series of commercials he did for Quaker Oats Oatmeal throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Quaker commercials were famous for their slogan: "It's the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it." Brimley is also known for appearing in numerous television advertisements for Liberty Medical, a company specializing in home delivery of medical products such as diabetes testing supplies.
Brimley has also been described as "a fine singer with a warm, rich voice". In 1993, Brimley sang with the Cal State Northridge Jazz Band for a concert benefiting the college's Jazz Endowment Scholarship Fund; in 2004, he released This Time, The Dream's On Me, an album of jazz standards named after the Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer-penned title track.
Read more about this topic: Wilford Brimley
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“I seemed intent on making it as difficult for myself as possible to pursue my male career goal. I not only procrastinated endlessly, submitting my medical school application at the very last minute, but continued to crave a conventional female role even as I moved ahead with my male pursuits.”
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