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David Huddleston, the Big Lebowski (not the Dude), dies at age 85



"Strong men also cry."

Just one of countless quotable lines from the 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski, but one with deeper meaning for Acheivers worldwide today.

David Huddleston, the character actor who delivered that line as the wealthy Jeffrey Lebowski confused with Jeff Bridges' Dude, died Tuesday in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 85. His wife Sarah Koeppe told the Los Angeles Times that heart and kidney disease were causes.

Mr. Huddleston's signature role as Lebowski made him a hero to fans of Joel and Ethan Coen's loopy neo-noir. His wealthier of the two Jeffrey Lebowskis was all fuss and bluster, a crooked businessman with a community savior facade. His cover-up  Little Lebowski Urban Achievers inspired a real world fan club of Achievers, who gather at Lebowskifest conventions to share in-theme costumes, bowling, music and the Dude's favorite beverage, White Russians.

In 2005, I attended a Lebowskifest in Los Angeles, the movie's setting, where Bridges performed songs from the soundtrack with his band. Mr. Huddleston attended the second night's festivities at a Hollywood bowling alley, greeting the crowd with another of his lines from the movie: "I've got news for you: The bums always lose!"

This time, the bums cheered.

After midnight, as Mr. Huddleston headed for the door, he grinned like Jeffrey Lebowski wouldn't, while we chatted about the evening. 

"This is the most fun I've had in a long time," he said. "It's chaos. These people are crazy. You know, they're all bums and the bums usually lose. This time they won."

The Big Lebowski wasn't Mr. Huddleston's only experience with classic comedy, or coining quotable lines. He also played Olson Johnson, mayor of Rock Ridge, in Mel Brooks' Western spoof Blazing Saddles.

"But we don't want the Irish!" Mr. Huddleston boomed, when it's suggested that his town embrace minorities. Then a sudden change of heart: "Aw, prairie s--t; everybody!"

Or, after an unintelligible rant by a crusty citizen at a Rock Ridge town meeting: "Now who can argue with that?... Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age."

Mr. Huddleston's resume includes 145 film and television appearances list on the Internet Movie Database, stretching back to the 1960's and pop culture touchstones like Bewitched, Bonanza, The Rockford Files and the original Brian's Song with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams.

But he'll be most fondly remembered as the blustery fireplug foil to Bridges' dazed Dude.

Today, strong Achievers also cry.


[Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2016 10:48am]


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