Dabney Coleman dies at 92

NEW YORK (AP) — Dabney Coleman, the mustachioed character actor who specialised in smarmy villains just like the chauvinist boss in “9 to five” and the nasty TV director in “Tootsie,” has died. He was 92.

Coleman died Thursday at his residence in Santa Monica, his daughter, Quincy Coleman, stated in a press release to The Related Press. She stated he “took his final earthly breath peacefully and exquisitely.”

“The nice Dabney Coleman actually created, or outlined, actually — in a uniquely singular approach — an archetype as a personality actor. He was so good at what he did it’s onerous to think about films and tv of the final 40 years with out him,” Ben Stiller wrote on X.

For 20 years Coleman labored in films and TV reveals as a gifted however largely unnoticed performer. That modified abruptly in 1976 when he was forged because the incorrigibly corrupt mayor of the hamlet of Fernwood in “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” a satirical cleaning soap opera that was so excessive no community would contact it.

Producer Norman Lear lastly managed to syndicate the present, which starred Louise Lasser within the title position. It rapidly turned a cult favourite. Coleman’s character, Mayor Merle Jeeter, was particularly well-liked and his masterful, comedian deadpan supply didn’t go ignored by movie and community executives.

A six-footer with an ample black mustache, Coleman went on to make his mark in quite a few well-liked movies, together with as a stressed laptop scientist in “Warfare Video games,” Tom Hanks’ father in “You’ve Bought Mail” and a fireplace combating official in “The Towering Inferno.”

He received a Golden Globe for “The Slap Maxwell Story” and an Emmy Award for greatest supporting actor in Peter Levin’s 1987 small display authorized drama “Sworn to Silence.” A few of his latest credit embrace “Ray Donovan” and a recurring position on “Boardwalk Empire,” for which he received two Display screen Actors Guild Awards.

Within the groundbreaking 1980 hit “9 to five,” he was the “sexist, egotistical, mendacity, hypocritical bigot” boss who tormented his unappreciated feminine underlings — Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton — till they turned the tables on him.

In 1981, he was Fonda’s caring, well-mannered boyfriend, who asks her father (performed by her real-life father, Henry Fonda) if he can sleep along with her throughout a go to to her mother and father’ trip residence in “On Golden Pond.”

Reverse Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie,” he was the obnoxious director of a daytime cleaning soap opera that Hoffman’s character joins by pretending to be a lady. Amongst Coleman’s different movies have been “North Dallas Forty,” “Cloak and Dagger,” “Dragnet,” “Meet the Applegates,” “Inspector Gadget” and “Stuart Little.” He reunited with Hoffman as a land developer in Brad Silberling’s “Moonlight Mile” with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Coleman’s obnoxious characters didn’t translate fairly as nicely on tv, the place he starred in a handful of community comedies. Though some turned cult favorites, just one lasted longer than two seasons, and a few critics questioned whether or not a sequence starring a lead character with completely no redeeming qualities may appeal to a mass viewers.

“Buffalo Invoice” (1983-84) was a superb instance. It starred Coleman as “Buffalo Invoice” Bittinger, the smarmy, boastful, dimwitted daytime discuss present host who, sad at being relegated to the small-time market of Buffalo, New York, takes it out on everybody round him. Though well written and that includes a fantastic ensemble forged, it lasted solely two seasons.

One other was 1987’s “The Slap Maxwell Story,” during which Coleman was a failed small-town sportswriter making an attempt to avoid wasting a faltering marriage whereas wooing a phenomenal younger reporter on the aspect.

Different failed makes an attempt to discover a mass TV viewers included “Apple Pie,” “Drexell’s Class” (during which he performed an inside dealer) and “Madman of the Individuals,” one other newspaper present during which he clashed this time along with his youthful boss, who was additionally his daughter.

He fared higher in a co-starring position in “The Guardian” (2001-2004), which had him taking part in the daddy of a crooked lawyer. And he loved the voice position as Principal Prickly on the Disney animated sequence “Recess” from 1997-2003.

Beneath all that bravura was a reserved man. Coleman insisted he was actually fairly shy. “I’ve been shy all my life. Perhaps it stems from being the final of 4 youngsters, all of them very good-looking, together with a brother who was Tyrone Energy-handsome. Perhaps it’s as a result of my father died once I was 4,” he instructed The Related Press in 1984. “I used to be extraordinarily small, just a bit man who was there, the child who created no bother. I used to be interested in fantasy, and I created video games for myself.”

As he aged, he additionally started to place his mark on pompous authority figures, notably in 1998’s “My Date With the President’s Daughter,” during which he was not solely an egotistical, self-absorbed president of the US, but additionally a clueless father to a teen woman.

Dabney Coleman — his actual title — was born in 1932 in Austin, Texas After two years on the Virginia Navy Academy, two on the College of Texas and two within the Military, he was a 26-year-old regulation scholar when he met one other Austin native, Zachry Scott, who starred in “Mildred Pierce” and different movies.

“He was probably the most dynamic individual I’ve ever met. He satisfied me I ought to change into an actor, and I actually left the following day to review in New York. He didn’t assume that was too sensible, however I made my choice,” Coleman instructed The AP in 1984.

Early credit included such TV reveals as “Ben Casey,” “Dr Kildare,” “The Outer Limits,” “Bonanza,” “The Mod Squad” and the movie “The Towering Inferno.” He appeared on Broadway in 1961 in “A Name on Kuprin.” He performed Kevin Costner’s father on “Yellowstone.”

Twice divorced, Coleman is survived by 4 youngsters, Meghan, Kelly, Randy and Quincy, and the grandchildren Hale and Gabe Torrance, Luie Freundl and Kai and Coleman Biancaniello.

“My father crafted his time right here on earth with a curious thoughts, a beneficiant coronary heart, and a soul on fireplace with ardour, need and humor that tickled the humorous bone of humanity,” Quincy Coleman wrote in his honor.


Mark Kennedy could be reached at

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