Wilford Brimley became an icon to a younger generation in the 1980s with his commercials for Liberty Medical, earning him the affectionate nickname of “the diabeetus man.” Watch the classic Brimley diabetes commercial here or later in this post.
Brimley died Saturday, August 1, 2020 at age 85. He had been in the hospital in Utah for about two months with a kidney ailment, his agent, Lynda Bensky, told The New York Times. He leaves behind a wife, Beverly, and three children.
Brimley was also known as the face of Quaker Oats. He starred in more than 70 television shows and on film, becoming a household name that spanned decades. Brimley was known for his iconic mustache, and for his roles in “Cocoon,” “Absence of Malice” and “The Natural.” He also played the Walton Mountain resident Horace Brimley in a recurring role on the television series “The Waltons.” It was then that Michael Douglas, the producer of “The China Syndrome,” gave Brimley his breakthrough role as Ted Spindler, an assistant engineer at a nuclear plant, according to The New York Times.
Here’s what you need to know:
Wilford Brimley Became an Icon for His Liberty Medical Diabetes Commercial & Was Recognized for His Educational Role
Wilford Brimley was the face of Liberty Medical, often gracing television sets to encourage people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes to call Liberty Medical and get a free meter. The commercials were often parodied, but beloved, and earned him the title of “the diabeetus man” for his memorable pronunciation of the disease’s name.
“If you have type 2 diabetes like I have, you’re confronted with choices,” he said on the ad. “You can choose to feel sorry for yourself. I hope you don’t.”
He continues, “I hope you choose to get involved with a good doctor, find out some things about diabetes and your own body in the bargain. You’ll learn to check your own blood sugar and check it often. That, along with a simple diet and exercise program can help keep your diabetes under control.”
Brimley was diagnosed with diabetes in 1979. He managed the disease, and became an educational spokesperson through his Liberty Medical advertisements. Brimley was honored by The American Diabetes Association in 2008 for his lifetime of advocacy in 2008, according to TMZ.
John Goodman acted in a parody of Brimley’s iconic commercial on Saturday Night Live. Watch it here.
“Hi, I’m Wilford Brimley and I’ve had diabetes for about 20 years,” Goodman says, holding reins and sitting on a prop horse in front of a backdrop of a mountain range. “I stay active and I feel pretty good most of the time. See, I do a few simple things now. I’m not perfect. But I try and watch my diet and exercise, and I check my blood sugar, and I get all my diabetic testing supplies from Liberty Medical,” Goodman continues, as a Liberty Medical logo appears in the corner of the screen.
Brimley was also known as the spokesman for Quaker Oats. Watch Brimley’s Quaker Oats commercials here. His advertisements focused on the health benefits of the oatmeal brand, especially for lowering cholesterol. He promoted the brand with his tagline, “It’s the right thing to do.”