Big Lebowski star David Huddleston dies aged 85
David Huddleston, the actor best known for his role as the title character in The Big Lebowski, has died. He was 85.
His wife of 32 years, Sarah Koeppe, said he died of advanced kidney and heart disease on Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Huddleston was a widely recognised character actor prior to performing the Coen Brothers' 1997 cult classic. His career spanned more than half a century.
“He was never the star,” Ms Koeppe said. “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.”
Huddleston was born on 17 September 1930 in Vinton, Virginia. He began appearing in community theatre productions at an early age, and ultimately eschewed studying law or political science to become an actor.
After high school, Huddleston joined the Air Force as a diesel mechanic. After serving in the military, he moved to New York City and studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts under the GI Bill – which provides educational assistance to veterans.
Ms Koeppe said that while Huddleston was proud of his film career, his first love was always the theatre, where he got his start in New York. She told the Los Angeles Times that his "crowning achievement" was portraying Benjamin Franklin in Broadway production of 1776 one year before The Big Lebowski was released.
The actor was a regular player in multiple NBC television shows, and he starred in classic films, such as Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974) and played another titular role in the 1985 Dudley Moore comedy, Santa Claus: The Movie.
“I’ve had a very, very, very good run at this stuff,” Huddleston said in a 2015 interview with the New Mexican. “I have been all over the world, made pictures in Mexico, Canada, Israel, France, and England.
“I’ve met people who I never dreamt I would meet, all heroes of mine.”
In addition to Ms Koeppe, Huddleston is survived by his son, Michael, and daughter-in-law Nancy Foster.
Independent News Service