David Huddleston, who was best known for playing the title character in The Big Lebowski has died at the age of 85.
His wife and partner of 32 years, Sarah Koeppe, said he died of advanced heart and kidney disease on Tuesday, August 2, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Los Angeles Times reports.
While Huddleston only had a few scenes as a millionaire nicknamed “The Big” Lebowski in the 1998 cult hit, which also starred Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, they were memorable, as were his appearances over a career that spanned six decades and included roles in the films Santa Claus: The Movie, Blazing Saddles and The Producers, as well as TV series such as The Wonder Years, The West Wing and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Born in Vinton, Virginia, Huddleston was an officer in the U.S. Air Force before turning to acting and studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City under the G.I. Bill.
He got his start on the stage, touring with productions including The Music Man and Mame, and in 1998 starred on Broadway as Benjamin Franklin in 1776, a role that his wife told the Los Angeles Times he considered his “crowning achievement.”
Huddleston was proud of his long career as a character actor alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names including John Wayne, James Stewart and Charles Bronson.
“He was never the star,” Koeppe told The New Mexican. “He got to work with or become friends with all kinds of people, including stars, and it always amazed him. This was a kid who grew up without electricity and running water in his home until he was 10 or 12 and he was so amazed as he looked back at what happened in his life.”
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