‘We lost one of the greats’: 9 to 5 and Tootise star Dabney Coleman dies, age 92

May 18, 2024
As news of his passing broke both fans and colleagues alike took to social media to offer tributes to an actor one deemed "simply brilliant". Source: AP PHOTO.

Fans have rushed to pay tribute to character actor Dabney Coleman, famous for his iconic roles in Tootsie and 9 to 5, after the beloved star passed away at the age of 92.

Coleman’s daughter issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporterannouncing her father’s passing on Thursday, May 16.

“My father crafted his time here on Earth with a curious mind, a generous heart and a soul on fire with passion, desire and humor that tickled the funny bone of humanity,” she said.

“As he lived, he moved through this final act of his life with elegance, excellence and mastery.

“A teacher, a hero and a king, Dabney Coleman is a gift and blessing in life and in death as his spirit will shine through his work, his loved ones and his legacy … eternally.”

Born January 3, 1932, Coleman honed his acting skills under Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City between 1958 and 1960.

Coleman’s Broadway debut came in 1961 with the short-lived production A Call on Kuprin. He gained early television exposure in a 1964 episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre and later in the first season of That Girl in 1966.

His early film credits include playing a U.S. Olympic skiing team coach in Downhill Racer (1969), a fire chief in The Towering Inferno (1974), and a wealthy Westerner in Bite the Bullet (1975).

Coleman’s breakthrough role came in 1980 as the sexist boss Franklin Hart, Jr. in 9 to 5, establishing him as a comic relief villain. He continued in this vein with roles like the arrogant soap opera director in Tootsie (1982) but also diversified his characters. He appeared as the sympathetic fiancé in On Golden Pond (1981), a military computer scientist in WarGames (1983), and took on a dual role in Cloak & Dagger (1984).

Throughout his career, Coleman adeptly switched between drama and comedy, often playing variations of his 9 to 5 character. His portrayal of a self-centered TV host in Buffalo Bill earned him an Emmy nomination, and he won an Emmy for Sworn to Silence in 1987. Other notable roles include a Broadway producer in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), a magazine mogul in Dragnet (1987), and the befuddled banker Milburn Drysdale in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993).

He also appeared in You’ve Got Mail (1998) and Inspector Gadget (1999). In later years, he played a casino owner in Domino (2005) and was a regular on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire (2010-2011). His final roles included a part in Rules Don’t Apply (2016) and a guest role in Yellowstone (2019).

In 2014, Coleman was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cementing his legacy in the entertainment industry.

As news of his passing broke both fans and colleagues alike took to social media to offer tributes to an actor one deemed “simply brilliant”.

Coleman is survived by his four children, Meghan, Kelly, Randy and Quincy.

-with AP.

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