Some sad news is coming in today as it has been reported that famous Hollywood puppeteer Pat Brymer has passed away. Particularly well known for puppeteering the mischievous gopher that tormented Bill Murray in Caddyshack, Brymer had also lent a hand to many other movies and television shows. Although the news of his death has just been announced, Brymer reportedly died on April 12 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, following a battle with cardiomyopathy. He was 70 years old.
Born James Patrick Brymer, the legendary puppeteer was born on March 17, 1950, in Highland Park, Illinois. Following four years studying theater at Illinois State University, Brymer began working as a puppeteer in St. Louis when he took a job at Sid and Marty Krofft’s puppet theater at Six Flags Over Mid-America. There, he would build puppets and walk-around characters. This would lead to more work with the Kroffts, such as the popular children’s television program The Banana Splits. He’d also design puppets to be used for an indoor amusement park for the Kroffts and worked on the Las Vegas variety show Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour with Raquel Welch
With a clear hand for his craft, Brymer would go on to launch Pat Brymer Creations in 1983 to strike out on his own, designing a plethora of puppet characters for various TV shows, commercials, and promotions. He’d also teach his craft through puppet-building workshops as a board member and treasurer at the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry. This gave aspiring puppeteers an opportunity to learn directly from one of the best.
One of Brymer’s most popular gigs came along in 1980 with the Harold Ramis comedy Caddyshack. In the movie, Bill Murray plays a gruff groundskeeper hunting a gopher that’s been damaging a golf course. Brymer controlled the gopher during these scenes, which provided for some of the funniest moments in the iconic film. The animatronic gopher was built by a team led by John Dykstra, but it was Brymer who directly controlled the robotic animal.
Along with Caddyshack, Brymer has worked on many other Hollywood movies. This includes such titles as Short Circuit, My Stepmother Is an Alien, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and Carving a Life. Brymer also served as the principal puppeteer for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s vulgar puppet comedy movie Team America: World Police, also portraying the role of Baxter the bartender. Additionally, Brymer was the one who created the modern version of the famous TV puppet Lamb Chop for ventriloquist Shari Lewis, which appeared on the PBS series Lamb Chop’s Play-Along.
Brymer is survived by his husband and partner of 47 years, James T. McDermott. We extend our condolences to McDermott and everyone else mourning the loss of the talented creator. Through his many works in movies and television, there’s no doubt Brymer’s legacy will continue to live on forever. A celebration of life service will be held in Brymer’s honor on a date to be revealed in the future. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.