Hollywood character actor Wilford Brimley, best known for Cocoon and The Firm, has died at the age of 85.

His death was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his manager Lynda Bensky, who said the actor died on Saturday morning in Utah.

Brimley had been on dialysis and had other medical issues, and was in intensive care when he died. He is survived by his wife Beverly and three sons.

"Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust," Bensky said in a statement. "He said what he meant and he meant what he said. He had a tough exterior and a tender heart.

"I'm sad that I will no longer get to hear my friend’s wonderful stories. He was one of a kind."

Anthony Wilford Brimley was born in 1934, enlisted in the US Marine Corps during high school, and before becoming an actor he worked a series of jobs, including blacksmith, wrangler, rodeo rider and a bodyguard for Howard Hughes.

He started his career in film as an extra at a time when there was a demand for people who could ride horses. He worked on TV shows such as Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

He was encouraged to develop his acting skills by Robert Duvall and after getting his SAG card landed his first speaking role on the CBS Western Lancer.

He would go on to star in the Sydney Pollack movies The Electric Horseman (1979), Absence Of Malice (1981), and The Firm (1983), where he starred as a sinister security chief.

Brimley starred in the 1986-88 NBC family drama Our House as a retired widower, and he also had a recurring role on the much-loved series The Waltons.

His movie roles included Pop Fisher in Barry Levinson’s baseball film The Natural (1984), and as Sunny Shores retirement home resident Ben Luckett in the 1985 Ron Howard movie Cocoon.

Here he is, interviewed by Craig Ferguson: