The Wilford Brimley Incident

We were in the car and my son asks, “How do you pronounce diabetes? Is if dye-a-beet-eez or dye-a-beet-iss”

I thought for a second. “Well, I think both are acceptable — but in my experience, dye-a-beet-eez is the preferred pronunciation.”

“So why does Wilford Brimley say, dye-a-beet-iss.”

My face went red. “Because Wilford Brimley is an idiot, that’s why!”

Brimley and I have history.

Wilford Brimley was cast to appear in a production of A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theatre. I was sent down there to shoot a commercial for the show with the star. He sat down and gave it a slow, halting read — and the :20 seconds of copy ran about :40 seconds. “OK… that was good — but it was a little long so let’s try again.”


Nope? Did Wilford Brimley just tell me “Nope”?

“Well, we can’t really use that…”

“Not my problem. I’ve already done it and that’s all you’re gettin’.”

I tried again, “But Mr. Brimley, we need to…”

He cut me off. “I said that’s it!”

He started taking his mic off and I went to look for the producer who had brought Brimley to town.

“Hey, Dennis… you know we can’t really use that take, it’s way too long.”

The producer — who would presumably be signing the paychecks — huddled with Wilford Brimley for several minutes. Brimley came back and sat down in his seat, scowling all the way. He did it again — but it was awful and we ended up patching something together between the two takes.

I got to work with a few celebrities over the years. Some were gracious and professional to even the lowliest crew members — and some were jerks. That’s OK, to me it’s nothing more than a funny story — but something inside me says that you won’t be judged on how you treat the big shots, but how you are with the little people.

14 thoughts on “The Wilford Brimley Incident

  1. I once had business to do with Dick Clark over
    the telephone. Lets just say patience is not
    among his virtues.

  2. I had a friend who worked with Howard Stern years ago. I asked what he was like off-air, and was told “He’s the kind of guy who would fart in your face when you’re working under the console.”

  3. American Diabetes Association gave Mr. Brimley an award in 2008 for all his work raising consciousness and awareness about diabetes. As for his pronounciation, tell your son to listen to tapes of Brimley repeating the famous Quaker Oats tag line, “It’s the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it.” If that doesn’t make you wanna upchuck nothing does!

  4. This makes me laugh out loud…nothing about his face, his commercials, his voice, etc. would make me think he’s a nice guy, anyway. There’s nothing Grandfatherly about him – he’s just a curmudgeon. Everytime I’m watching a movie and there’s a character displaying a gruffy, nasty nature – I ALWAYS say “Wilford Brimley would’ve been perfect”.

  5. I think a lot of actors don’t vary much from the people they portray. I met Paul Newman about 20 years ago at the Gran Prix of Phoenix auto race. He was back in the pits managing the action of his team. 105 degrees and he’s not breaking a sweat. Still had time to chat up spectators. He was just as super-cool and nice as most of the characters he played. He was ‘The Dude’ before Jeff Bridges.

  6. Watch the Firm and see him get his a$$ whooped towards the end by Tom Cruise!!!! Silly Oatmeal man….now I definitey don’t like him!

  7. The first couple lines in the link to the Daily Gazette provided above says it all, “Close-mouthed and crotchety, Wilford Brimley seems the perfect choice to play Scrooge…”

  8. Ha! So true. I worked with Wilford in that production of A, Christmas Carol and believe me, he was much worse.

    1. I don’t know, I suppose Mr. Brimley could be grouchy for reasons we’ll never understand. As I get older I try to cut people some slack and I wonder what they might be facing that makes them act the way they do.

      Or it could be he was just an a-hole.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *