The Big Lebowski and Santa Claus: The Movie actor dies aged 85

David Huddleston, the character actor best known for his role in The Big Lebowski, has died. He was 85.

David Huddleston
David Huddleston

Huddleston's wife, Sarah C Koeppe, said he died on Tuesday of advanced heart and kidney disease in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Huddleston famously portrayed the blustery millionaire whose identity Jeff Bridges' character is mistaken for in the 1998 cult comedy The Big Lebowski.

He also personified a jolly Father Christmas alongside Dudley Moore in Santa Claus: The Movie and hilariously played the mayor in Blazing Saddles.

Other credits in Huddleston's 55-year career include the films Fools' Parade, Family Reunion and Bad Company, as well as guest appearances on such TV series as Gunsmoke, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls and The Wonder Years.

Huddleston was born in 1930 in Vinton, Virginia, and served as an aircraft engine mechanic in the US Air Force before studying acting in New York.

He began his career in the theatre, acting in national tours of such shows as Music Man, Mame and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.