Dabney Coleman Dies: ‘WarGames’ & ‘9 to 5’ Star Was 92

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Character actor Dabney Coleman, best known for his roles in WarGames and 9 to 5, has died at the age of 92.

Coleman died on May 16, according to his daughter, singer Quincy Coleman. “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. As he lived, he moved through this final act of his life with elegance, excellence and mastery,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

Coleman was born in 1932 and was drafted in the United States Army in 1953, going on to serve in Europe. He trained with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York starting in 1958. He had nearly 180 credits, with his first role an episode of Naked City in 1961. He followed that up with episodes of Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1962, then Alcoa Premiere, Ben Casey, Breaking Point, and Arrest and Trial in 1963.

Coleman went on to star in over 100 episodes each of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976-1977) and Forever Fernwood (1977-1978). His other TV credits include Barnaby Jones, Buffalo Bill, The Slap Maxwell Story, The Guardian, and Boardwalk Empire. His most recent role was a guest spot as John Dutton Sr. on Yellowstone in 2019.

“The scene’s well-written. I’m working with a very fine actor,” he told TV Insider of working alongside Kevin Costner at the time. “It was great. He’s a total pro, very sensitive guy, very talented guy, very professional, very serious.”

Dabney Coleman, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in '9 to 5'

(c)20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Coleman won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Sworn to Silence in 1987 and was nominated for five more: for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Buffalo Bill (in 1983 and 1984); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Baby M (in 1988); Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for The Slap Maxwell Story (in 1988); and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Columbo (in 1991).

He won a Golden Globe in 1988 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical for The Slap Maxwell Story. He was nominated the same year for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Sworn to Silence as well as in 1984 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical for Buffalo Bill). He also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of Boardwalk Empire‘s ensemble in 2011 and 2012.

Coleman’s best known for the aforementioned WarGames (1983) and 9 to 5 (1980). (He reunited with his 9 to 5 costars Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in 1993’s The Beverly Hillbillies.) His first feature film role came in 1965 in The Slender Thread, followed by The Scalphunters in 1968. His other movie roles include On Golden Pond, Tootsie, Dragnet, Clifford, You’ve Got Mail, Inspector Gadget, and Moonlight Mile.

Coleman received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014 for his contribution to television.

Coleman was married and divorced twice, to Ann Courtney Harrell and Jean Hale. He is survived by his four children, Quincy, Kelly, Randy, and Meghan.

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