David Huddleston, who graced the silver screen in features like "Blazing Saddles," and most notably, "The Big Lebowski," died Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico from complications of advanced kidney and heart disease. He was 85.
His TV roles included appearances on "The West Wing," "The Wonder Years," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Gilmore Girls." But before his acting career took off, Huddleston was an Air Force mechanic, according to the The Santa Fe New Mexican: An excerpt from a 2014 feature piece reads:
The U.S. Air Force trained David Huddleston to be an aircraft engine mechanic, but his wife, Sarah, maintains he never learned how to change the oil in their car. Instead, upon receiving his discharge from the Air Force in the mid-1950s, he used GI Bill funds to attend The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Born and raised in Vinton, Virginia, Huddleston attended the all-male military boarding school Fork Union Military Academy for one year before serving in the Air Force for four, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His stint in New York propelled him into television, appearing on shows like "Bewitched" and "Bonanza" in the late 60s.
The Air Force never saw him again, but America would learn to love him over the course of 40 years in which the actor even scored an Emmy nomination for his guest-starring debut in 1990 as Grandpa Arnold on The Wonder Years, The Hollywood Reporter said.
In arguably his most famous role, Huddleston played the title role as wheelchair-bound millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski in the 1998 Coen brothers film "The Big Lebowski.".
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.