Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman

Birth name: Dabney Wharton Coleman
Born: January 3, 1932
Age: 86
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, U.S.
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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).

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. 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. 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.

Personal life

Coleman resides in Brentwood, California. He has been married and 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.

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.

Selected filmography

  • Naked City (TV) (1961) as Resident
  • The Outer Limits (TV) ("The Mice"; 1963) as Dr. Williams
  • The Outer Limits (TV) ("Wolf 359"; 1964) as James Custer
  • Dear Uncle George (TV) (1964) as Tom Esterow
  • The Donna Reed Show (TV) (1965) as Rallye Master
  • The Slender Thread (1965) as Charlie
  • This Property Is Condemned (1966) as Salesman
  • That Girl (TV) (1966-67) as Dr. Leon Bessemer
  • The Fugitive (TV) (1967) as Steve / Officer George Graham / Floyd / Sergeant Keith
  • The Invaders (TV) (1967) as John Carter / Capt. Mitchell Ross
  • Dundee and the Culhane (TV) (1967) as Sheriff Wrenn
  • The Scalphunters (1968) as Jed
  • Bonanza (TV) (1968) one episode as Ivar Peterson, (1969) one episode as Clyde
  • The Mod Squad (TV) (1969) as John
  • The Trouble with Girls (1969) as Harrison Wilby
  • Downhill Racer (1969) as Mayo
  • The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970) as Agent Shepard
  • I Love My Wife (1970) as Frank Donnelly
  • The President's Plane Is Missing (1973) as Sen. Bert Haines
  • Cinderella Liberty (1973) as Executive Officer
  • Columbo ("Double Shock"; 1973) as Detective Murray
  • Black Fist (1974) as Heineken
  • The Dove (1974) as Charles Huntley
  • Bad Ronald (1974) as Mr. Wood
  • McMillan & Wife (TV) ("Cross and Double Cross"; 1974)
  • Kojak (TV) (1974) as Alex Linden
  • The Towering Inferno (1974) as Deputy Chief #1
  • Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1975) as Paul Mathison
  • Bite the Bullet (1975) as Jack Parker
  • McMillan & Wife: Aftershock (TV) (1975) as Walter Jennings
  • The Other Side of the Mountain (1975) as Dave McCoy
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show (TV) (1976) as Congressman Phil Whitman
  • Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (TV) (1976-77) as Merle Jeeter
  • Midway (1976) as Captain Murray Arnold
  • Viva Knievel! (1977) as Ralph Thompson
  • Rolling Thunder (1977) as Maxwell
  • Quincy, M.E. (TV) (1977) as Officer Peter O'Neil / Dr. Burt Travers
  • Apple Pie (TV) (1978) as "Fast Eddie" Murtaugh
  • Maneaters Are Loose! (1978) as McCallum
  • The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2 (1978) as Dave McCoy (uncredited)
  • Go Tell the Spartans (1978) as Helicopter pilot (uncredited)
  • North Dallas Forty (1979) as Emmett Hunter
  • Nothing Personal (1980) as Dickerson
  • How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980) as Jack Heintzel
  • Melvin and Howard (1980) as Judge Keith Hayes
  • 9 to 5 (1980) as Franklin Hart, Jr.
  • Pray TV (1980) as Marvin Fleece
  • On Golden Pond (1981) as Dr. Bill Ray
  • Modern Problems (1981) as Mark Winslow
  • Young Doctors in Love (1982) as Dr. Joseph Prang
  • Tootsie (1982) as Ron Carlisle
  • WarGames (1983) as McKittrick
  • Buffalo Bill (TV) (1983-84) as Bill Bittinger
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) as Martin Price / Murray Plotsky
  • Cloak & Dagger (1984) as Jack Flack / Hal Osborne
  • The Man with One Red Shoe (1985) as Cooper
  • Fresno (TV miniseries; 1986) as Tyler Cane
  • Murrow (TV Movie - !986) as CBS President William S. Paley
  • Dragnet (1987) as Jerry Caesar
  • The Slap Maxwell Story (TV; 1987-88) as Slap Maxwell
  • Hot to Trot (1988) as Walter Sawyer
  • Where the Heart Is (1990) as Stewart McBain
  • Short Time (1990) as Burt Simpson
  • Meet the Applegates (1990) as Aunt Bea
  • Never Forget (1991) as William Cox
  • Drexell's Class (TV) (1991-92) as Otis Drexell
  • Columbo ("Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star"; 1991) as Hugh Creighton
  • Amos & Andrew (1993) as Chief of Police Cecil Tolliver
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) as Milburn Drysdale
  • Clifford (1994) as Gerald Ellis
  • Judicial Consent (1994) as Charles Mayron
  • Madman of the People (TV) (1994-1995) as Jack 'Madman' Buckner
  • Witch Way Love (1997) as Joel
  • My Date with the President's Daughter (1998) as President Richmond
  • Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (1998) as Lieutenant Kevin Stolper
  • You've Got Mail (1998) as Nelson Fox
  • Inspector Gadget (1999) as The Police Chief Quimby
  • Stuart Little (1999) as Dr. Beechwood
  • Taken (1999) as Ethan Grover
  • Recess: School's Out (2001) as Principal Peter Prickly (voice)
  • The Guardian (2001-04) as Burton Fallin
  • The Climb (2002) as Mack
  • Moonlight Mile (2002) as Mike Mulcahey
  • Where the Red Fern Grows (2003) as Grandpa
  • Domino (2005) as Drake Bishop
  • Heartland (2007) as Dr. Bart Jacobs
  • Hard Four (2007) as Spray Loomis
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: "Snatched" (2009) as Frank Hager
  • Boardwalk Empire (2010-11) as Commodore Louis Kaestner
  • Pound Puppies (animated TV series; Season One only) as Mayor (voice)
  • Ray Donovan (2016, Season 4, Episode 4) as Mr. Price
  • Rules Don't Apply (2016) as Raymond Holliday

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Buffalo Bill Nominated
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
1984 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
1987 CableACE Awards Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Murrow Nominated
1987 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Sworn to Silence Won
1988 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Television Series Musical or Comedy The Slap Maxwell Story Won
1988 Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film Sworn to Silence Nominated
1988 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series The Slap Maxwell Story Nominated
1988 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Baby M Nominated
1991 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star Nominated
2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Boardwalk Empire Won
2012 Won

[ Source: Wikipedia ]