Dabney Coleman
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Dabney Coleman
Dabney Coleman
Coleman in The Towering Inferno (1974)
Born Dabney Wharton Coleman
(1932-01-03) January 3, 1932 (age 86)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Residence Brentwood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1961-present
Ann Courtney Harrell
(m. 1957; div. 1959)

Jean Hale
(m. 1961; div. 1984)
Children 4, including Quincy

Dabney Wharton Coleman (born January 3, 1932) is an American character actor.

Coleman's best known films include The Towering Inferno (1974), 9 to 5 (1980), On Golden Pond (1981), Tootsie (1982), WarGames (1983), Cloak & Dagger (1984), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), You've Got Mail (1998), Recess: School's Out (2001), Moonlight Mile (2002), and Rules Don't Apply (2016).[1]

Coleman television roles include the title character in the NBC series Buffalo Bill (1983-1984), Burton Fallin on the CBS series The Guardian (2001-2004), the voice of Principal Peter Prickly in the animated series Recess (1997-2001), and Louis "The Commodore" Kaestner on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (2010-2011). He has won one Primetime Emmy Award from six nominations, and one Golden Globe Award from three nominations.

Early life

Coleman was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Mary Wharton (née Johns) and Melvin Randolph Coleman.[2][3] He entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1949, then studied law at the University of Texas before turning to acting. He was drafted in 1953 to the United States Army and served in Europe.


Coleman is a character actor with over 60 films to his credit. He trained with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater from 1958-60.[] Early roles in his career included a US Olympic skiing team coach in the 1969 Robert Redford film Downhill Racer, a high-ranking superior San Francisco deputy fire chief to battalion chief Steve McQueen in The Towering Inferno (1974) and a wealthy Westerner whose champion horse is entered in a long-distance race against that of Gene Hackman and others in Bite the Bullet (1975). He portrayed an FBI Special Agent in the NBC-TV movie Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1975).

He eventually landed the main antagonist part of Franklin Hart, Jr., a sexist boss on whom three female office employees (Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin) get their revenge in 1980's Nine to Five. It was this film that established Coleman in the character type he is most identified with and has frequently played since - a comic relief villain. (He had played earlier versions of such characters in the Elvis Presley vehicle The Trouble with Girls as well as an appearance in a 1962 AMC Rambler commercial.) Coleman followed up Nine to Five with the role of the arrogant, sexist, soap opera director in Tootsie (1982), further enforcing audiences' identification of him as a smarmy, devious foil to a film's main character. He broke from this type somewhat, however, in his portrayal of military computer scientist John McKittrick in WarGames (1983).

Coleman received his first Emmy nomination for his lead role in the critically acclaimed, though short-lived, TV series Buffalo Bill. In 1987, he received an Emmy Award for his role in the TV movie Sworn to Silence.[4] He appeared in the feature film On Golden Pond (1981), playing the fiancé of Chelsea Thayer Wayne (Jane Fonda). Coleman played a Hugh Hefner-ish magazine mogul in the comedy Dragnet (1987), Bobcat Goldthwait's boss (wearing, inexplicably, a set of fake teeth) in the 1988 talking-horse comedy Hot to Trot, and befuddled banker Milburn Drysdale in the feature film The Beverly Hillbillies (1993). Coleman played Gerald Ellis in Clifford (1994), with Martin Short in the title role.

From 1997 to 2001, Coleman provided the voice of Principal Prickly on the animated series Recess. He also played a philandering father in You've Got Mail (1998). More recently, Coleman appeared as a casino owner in 2005's Domino. He received acclaim as Burton Fallin in the TV series The Guardian (2001-04). For two seasons, from 2010 to 2011, Coleman was a series regular on HBO's hit series Boardwalk Empire.

On November 6, 2014, Coleman received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[5]

Personal life

Coleman resides in Brentwood, California.[6] He has been divorced twice. He was married to Ann Courtney Harrell from 1957 to 1959, and Jean Hale from 1961 to 1984. He has four children with Hale: Meghan, Kelly, Randy, and singer Quincy.[7]

In 1998, Coleman worked with fellow actor Bronson Pinchot at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, to help protect local forests and helped lead a campaign to educate others on how to care for and protect forests nationwide.

Coleman is an avid tennis player, playing for the U.S. Army while posted in Europe and later winning some celebrity and charity tournaments.[8][9]

Selected filmography

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ "The New York Times". 
  2. ^ Dabney Coleman Biography (1932-) at filmreference.com
  3. ^ Dabney Coleman Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  4. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1437. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  5. ^ Saval, Malina (6 November 2014). "Dabney Coleman Receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame". Variety. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ Dabney Coleman, The Movieland Directory, 2010, archived from the original on 2013-10-12 
  7. ^ Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com
  8. ^ Wallace, David (11 July 1983), "As TV's Macho Buffalo Bill, Dabney Coleman Finds That Sexism Breeds Success", People, 20 (2) 
  9. ^ Scott, Vernon (17 January 1982), "Dabney Coleman Gradually Working His Way to Top", Florence Times - Tri-Cities Daily, UPI 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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