David Huddleston, an actor best remembered for playing the real title character of the cult classic The Big Lebowski, died on Thursday. The 85-year-old actor succumbed to advanced heart and kidney disease, according to his wife of 32 years, Sarah Koeppe.
Though best known as the blustery businessman whose too-young trophy wife is “kidnapped” in the beloved Coen Brothers film, Huddleston had a career stretching back to the 1960s. His roles included parts on Broadway, TV, commercials, and film, including appearances in 2005’s The Producers, 1985’s Santa Claus: The Movie, and another cult classic in 1974’s Blazing Saddles. According to the LA Times, he once told the Santa Fe New Mexican that his role in the latter film was “probably the most fun I have ever had on a set.”
Huddleston appeared on TV shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The West Wing, Judging Amy, The Wonder Years, Our House, and many more. Still, Koeppe said his husband always considered his “crowning achievement” was playing Benjamin Franklin in Broadway’s 1776 during a 1997 production.
“I was in every cult film, but it never got the money when I needed it to,” Koeppe quoted her husband as saying.
Below, revisit one of Huddleston’s classic scenes from Lebowski, plus a clip of him speaking at the 2005 Lebowskifest. Jeff Bridges may want to rethink that Lebowski sequel.