David Huddleston

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For the Canadian General, see David Huddleston (Canadian general).
David Huddleston
David Huddleston in trailer to "Breakheart Pass" (1975)
Born David William Huddleston
(1930-09-17) September 17, 1930 (age 83)
Vinton, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Actor

David William Huddleston (born September 17, 1930) is an American actor, best known for his roles in Blazing Saddles, Santa Claus: The Movie and The Big Lebowski.

Early life[edit]

Huddleston was born in Vinton, Virginia, the son of Ismay Hope (née Dooley) and Lewis Melvin Huddleston.[1][2] He was briefly an officer in the United States Air Force before beginning his formal education in acting at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Huddleston attended Fork Union Military Academy for high school (Class of 1949) and is listed among the school's prominent alumni.[3]

Career[edit]

Known mainly as a character actor, Huddleston starred in the title role of 1985's big-budget film Santa Claus: The Movie, which featured a top-billed Dudley Moore as an elf.

Huddleston's first major role came in the 1968 drama A Lovely Way to Die. Shortly afterward the actor became a frequent guest star on several of the leading television series of the 1960s and 1970s, among them, Adam-12, Then Came Bronson, Gunsmoke, Bewitched, Bonanza, Cannon, McMillan & Wife, The Waltons, The Rookies, Medical Center, Kung Fu, Emergency!, Spencer's Pilots, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Police Woman, Hawaii Five-O, Walker, Texas Ranger, Charlie's Angels, Sanford and Son and The Rockford Files. He played the title role in the short-lived sitcom Hizzonner as a small town mayor. Among Huddleston's notable feature film credits prior to Santa Claus: The Movie are his co-starring roles in Bad Company (1972), Blazing Saddles (1974); Billy Two Hats (1974); McQ (1974); Breakheart Pass (1975); The Greatest (1977); The World's Greatest Lover (1977); Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) and Go for It (1983).

Huddleston resumed his television career with roles in various television movies, among them Heat Wave! (1974); The Oregon Trail (1976); Shark Kill (1976); Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (1978); Family Reunion (1981); Computercide (1982); and M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (1983). For much of the 1980s, Huddleston also starred in a series of television commercials for the Citrus Hill brand of orange juice. Huddleston's post-Santa Claus career has found him making occasional co-starring roles, in Spot Marks the X (1986); Finnegan Begin Again (1985); Frantic (1988); Life with Mikey (1993); The Big Lebowski (1998) in which he played the title role; and G-Men from Hell (2000). Later, he also had a recurring role as Albert "Gramps" Arnold, the paternal grandfather of the protagonist in The Wonder Years (1988–1993). Huddleston even appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the train conductor in the episode "Emergence". He appeared twice on The West Wing as Max Lobell, a Republican Senator who allies with Jed Bartlett on the issue of campaign finance reform. His performance as Benjamin Franklin in a Boston stage production of 1776 is referenced in the book Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, referring to him as "the actor who played The Big Lebowski in The Big Lebowski." In 2009 he appeared in the thriller Locker 13. Huddleston was also featured in the 2010 special It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: It's a Very Sunny Christmas released directly to DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download.

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