Actor David Huddleston, ‘The Big Lebowski,’ dead at 85

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Actor and director David Huddleston died on Tuesday

He starred in cult classics including "The Big Lebowski," and Broadway shows

CNN  — 

David Huddleston, known for his role in “The Big Lebowski,” has died of advanced heart and kidney disease, according to his wife, Sarah Koeppe.

Huddleston, who died Tuesday at 85, starred in the 1998 crime comedy movie along with actors Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. Huddleston’s character was millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski – same name but very different lifestyle from Bridges’ character, Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski.”

Since its premiere, the film has grown a cult following.

Huddleson’s wife recalled some of the reactions fans had about the movie.

“He was amazed that it connected him to a young generation who all knew him,” Koeppe told CNN.

The movie became an official national treasure when it was added to the National Film Registry in 2014. Huddleston’s work transcended “Lebowski,” with credits on several Hollywood and Broadway productions, and he made many memorable connections along the way.

“It was not often that he met somebody who didn’t become a friend,” said Koeppe.

Huddleston got his start in acting after he served four years in the Air Force. He used the GI Bill to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and graduated in 1957. He starred in several traveling theater productions before making the leap to the big screen.

He played a variety of supporting roles with John Wayne and Bette Davis in his early film career.

“He was so proud of the fact that he got to work with the greats,” said Koeppe.

David Huddleston and his wife Sarah Koeppe.

Beyond film and theater, Huddleston also starred on the small screen. In 1990, he received an Emmy nomination for his role as Grandpa in the sitcom “The Wonder Years,” a popular family comedy set in the 1960s.

He ended his prolific career at the same place he started – on the stage. There was something about the live audience that drew him in. He loved it, according to Koeppe.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Sarah C. Koeppe, and his son Michael Huddleston, according to the obituary Koeppe published this week.

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CNN’s Justin Lear contributed to the report.