The Big Lebowski’s David Huddleston dies, aged 85

David Huddleston The Big Lebowski

by John Nugent |
Published on

“Are you surprised at my tears, sir? Strong men also cry... strong men also cry.” Many strong men and women will be also crying today at the news that David Huddleston, best known for playing Jeffrey Lebowski in The Big Lebowski, has died, aged 85.

Born in Virginia in 1930, Huddleston briefly served in the United States Air Force before diving into an acting career. He quickly became a prolific character actor, with nearly 150 television and film credits to his name. Notable roles included the title role in 1985’s Santa Claus: The Movie, and Olson Johnson in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles.

But it was his role as the wheelchair-bound philanthropist Jeffrey Lebowski, in the Coen brothers’ quirky 1998 comedy, for which he is likely to be most widely remembered. His role as the irritable millionaire, whose mistaken identity embroils Jeff Bridges’ character in a kidnapping plot, is small but indelible. As with so much from that movie – which has inspired such a following that fans organise the ‘Lebowski Fest’ annually – his performance spawned many endlessly repeatable quotes, including the saracastic line: “Did I urinate on your rug?”

During his long career, he acted opposite John Wayne, James Stewart and Gregory Peck. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he once asked James Cagney, "What’s the best advice you can give me on acting?", to which Cagney replied, "Try never to get caught at it, kid."

He had, as Jeffrey Lebowski once said, accomplished more than most men. He is survived by his wife of 32 years and his son.

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