From 1986 to 1988, Brimley played family patriarch Gus Witherspoon on the aforementioned NBC family drama, on which Doherty played his teenage granddaughter, Kris. On Instagram Sunday, Doherty mourned her TV granddad, choosing to remember him as a man who “gave big hugs and told great jokes.”
“I met Wilford when we did Our House together. He taught me a lot on that show,” she wrote. “He also gave me a horse named Brownie. Taught me how to ski in Utah. Had two African Grey’s that would curse and call his dogs only to laugh at them when they came running. He gave big hugs and told great jokes. He was in fact like a grandpa to me for a very long time. He was talented and will be missed.”
Doherty wasn’t the only Our House alumna who paid homage to Brimley. TV mom Deidre Hall also posted that “heaven just got a lot more interesting.” (See her full tribute here.)
Brimley passed away in his Utah home on Saturday morning. He had recently spent days in an ICU hospital unit on dialysis.
His breakthrough role came in 1974, when he was cast in the recurring part of Horace Brimley on The Waltons. He would go on to appear in more than a dozen made-for-TV movies before he found a starring role in Our House, which ran for two seasons. Among his most memorable TV work, though, was a series of ads for Quaker Oats breakfast cereal throughout the 1980s, as well as a string of commercials for the diabetes testing supplies service Liberty Medical.
On the big screen, Brimley appeared in such films as The China Syndrome, The Thing, The Natural and Cocoon. All told, he had more than 70 acting credits to his name.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly, and his three children.