- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2016

David Huddleston, a character actor whose career spanned over a half-century, died Thursday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of advanced heart and kidney disease, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 85.

Born in Vinton, Virginia, in 1930, Mr. Huddleston served in the Air Force and went to New York on the GI Bill, where he tried his hand as an actor, according to the Roanoke Times. 

Mr. Huddleston, with his portly figure and stentorian voice, found steady work on stage and screen, but it wasn’t until 1998 that he became recognized the world over thanks to his titular role in the Coen brothers’ cult classic “The Big Lebowski.” The film starred Jeff Bridges as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, a slacker/stoner who inadvertently finds himself in a Raymond Chandler-esque L.A. noir mystery when he is mistakenly confused for a millionaire with the same name, played by Mr. Huddleston.

Despite being a failure at the box office, “The Big Lebowski” went on to find a worldwide audience thanks largely to word-of-mouth after the film came out on DVD. The Dude, his faux-profound wisdom and the rogue’s gallery of other characters have found a special place in pop culture. The film spawned an annual Lebowski Fest, a now-closed shop in New York that sold only Lebowski-related merchandise, and fans of the film can quote the film line by line.

So identified has Mr. Bridges become with the character that when he won his Golden Globe for “Crazy Heart” in 2010, he said that the award statue would “really tie the room together,” one of The Dude’s classic lines.

Mr. Huddleston last appeared on screen in 2014, according to his IMDb resume.

According to the Los Angeles Times, his wife, Sarah Koeppe, said the actor always believed his crowning achievement as a thespian was portraying Benjamin Franklin on Broadway in “1776.”

Mr. Huddleston was previously married to Carole Ann Swart, who died in 1987. He had one son, Michael Huddleston, also an actor.

 

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