Pat Brymer, Gopher Puppeteer on 'Caddyshack,' Dies at 70

Pat Brymer_Publicity -2- H 2020
Courtesy Stephen Dolainski

He also worked on 'Team America' and built famed ventriloquist Shari Lewis a new Lamb Chop.

Pat Brymer, a well-known puppeteer and puppet builder who manipulated Bill Murray's irrepressible nemesis, that pesky gopher, for Caddyshack, has died. He was 70.

Brymer died April 12 after a battle with cardiomyopathy at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, family friend Stephen Dolainski told The Hollywood Reporter. The novel coronavirus pandemic delayed the announcement of his death.

Brymer created an updated version of the woolly Lamb Chop character for renowned puppeteer and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. In the 1990s, they collaborated on the PBS shows Lamb Chop's Play-Along and The Charlie Horse Music Pizza and on Lamb Chop on Broadway.

Brymer also served as principal puppeteer on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America: World Police (2004), for which he also "portrayed" Baxter, the bartender and limo driver.

His credits included such other features as Short Circuit (1986), My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), Extreme Movie (2008) and Carving a Life (2017), a 1995 episode of The Nanny and the "McDonaldland" ad campaign for the fast food chain.

James Patrick Brymer was born on March 17, 1950, in Highland Park, Illinois. After four years studying theater at Illinois State University, he moved to St. Louis to work for Sid and Marty Krofft's puppet theater at Six Flags Over Mid-America, building puppets and walk-around characters and performing as a puppeteer.

He worked with the brothers on many other projects, including on the kids TV series The Banana Splits and the Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour, on a Las Vegas show that starred Raquel Welch and on puppets for an Atlanta indoor amusement park launched by the Kroffts.

Star Wars veteran John Dykstra led the team that built the animatronic Bushwood Country Club gopher that bedeviled Murray's Carl Spackler in Caddyshack (1980), but it was Brymer, as the principal puppeteer, who gave him life.

He launched Pat Brymer Creations in 1983 to design puppets and characters for commercials, TV shows and promotions. He also taught puppet-building workshops through the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry, for which he served as a board member and treasurer.

Survivors include his partner of 47 years, husband James T. McDermott. A remembrance of his life will be held at a later date.