Moved to California at the age of six
Dropped out of school to serve in Marines during the Korean War
After Korea, drifted though the western states working as a ranch hand, blacksmith and wrangler
Spent three years in the late 1950s as a bodyguard for Howard Hughes
Shoed horses for stables that furnished animals for movie and TV Westerns
Returned to Los Angeles; became a riding extra for Westerns
Befriended by actor Robert Duvall who urged him to pursue acting as a career
Received Screen Actors Guild card for work as stuntman
Film debut, an uncredited bit part in "True Grit"
Credited as Bill Brimley for movie role in "Lawman"
Landed recurring role on CBS series "The Waltons"
Was founding member of Los Angeles Actors Theater
TV-movie debut in "The Oregon Trail" (NBC)
Breakthrough supporting role as the plant foreman in "The China Syndrome"
Played Robert Redford's reluctant baseball manager in "The Natural"
Portrayed disillusioned farm patriarch in "Country"
Delivered memorable performance as leader of spunky senior citizens in Ron Howard's "Cocoon"
Co-starred on NBC comedy drama series "Our House"
Portrayed Gov. Lew Wallace (author of "Ben Hur") in "Gore Vidal's 'Billy the Kid'" (TNT)
Parlayed his folksey down-home image into job as spokesperson for Quaker Oats
In a departure from type, gave an outstanding performance as the sinister head of security in "The Firm"
Reunited with good friend Robert Duvall for a sixth time in the feature "My Fellow Americans"
Appeared as Kevin Kline's father and Debbie Reynolds' husband in Frank Oz's comedy "In & Out"
Acted in the PBS aired production "All My Friends Are Cowboys"
Co-starred in the CBS movie "The Ballad of Lucy Whipple"
Played a sheriff in "Brigham City"
Starred in an off-Broadway revival of "The Petrified Forest"
Released an album of jazz standards titled <i>This Time, the Dream's on Me</i>
Cast alongside Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant in "Did You Hear About the Morgans?"