Huddleston and John Wayne in Howard Hawks' 1970 Western "Rio Lobo".
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Like many character actors, David Huddleston's name may not be familiar to movie fans- but they certainly would recognize him, especially if they are retro film fans. Huddleston, who this week at age 85, was a star of stage and screen. He began making feature films in the 1960s and became steadily employed in both low-budget and major Hollywood productions, generally playing folksy, good old boy Southern characters, though he did snag the title role in the 1985 Salkind production of "Santa Claus" as well as the 1998 Coen Brothers cult classic "The Big Lebowski". He scored with audiences for his performance as the foul-mouthed town dignitary in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" and appeared in "Capricorn One", 'Smokey and the Bandit II", "Haunted Honeymoon" and two films with John Wayne: Howard Hawks' "Rio Lobo" and John Sturges' "McQ". In the first he played a small town dentist who humorously performs painful dental surgery on Wayne's character in order to deceive the villains. In the latter film, he played a private detective named Pinky who works with Wayne's maverick police detective in Seattle. Huddleston also worked up until recent years in many major TV series. He was especially proud of his acclaimed performance as Ben Franklin in the 1997 Broadway stage revival of "1776". For more click here.