David Huddleston, the actor known for his larger-than-life characters, died on Tuesday at age 85. His wife of 32 years, Sarah Koeppe, said that the cause was advanced heart and kidney failure.
Huddleston was perhaps best known for portraying the boisterous and gruff title character in cult classic The Big Lebowski in 1998, delivering the famous line, “strong men also cry.” However, Huddleston’s career also brought him roles in films like Blazing Saddles (1974), The Producers (2005) and Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), which was the film that introduced him to his wife, a casting agent. Huddleston also had roles on Broadway, in TV commercials and TV dramas, as a guest star often portraying overly serious, business-minded men.
He was born in Vinton, Va., on Sept. 17, 1930. He spent most of his childhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains area of the state, performing frequently in community theater. He was also a veteran, serving as an aircraft engine mechanic in the Air Force before studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts on the G.I. Bill.
Koeppe said of her husband, per the Los Angeles Times, “Things were not important to him — people were. He loved entertaining and would rather sit down and talk with someone over dinner.”