Stars pay tribute to Dabney Coleman, actor who starred in 9 to 5 and Tootsie

Entertainment

Lily Tomlin, Morgan Fairchild and Ben Stiller have led tributes to “one-of-a-kind” actor Dabney Coleman following his death aged 92.

Coleman made his career playing comedic villains, mean-spirited bosses and villains in films including 9 to 5 and Tootsie, as well as playing Commodore Louis Kaestner in Boardwalk Empire.

Lily Tomlin, who starred alongside him in 9 To 5 with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, said: “We just loved him.”

In her post to X, the actress shared a photo of her character Violet Newstead dressed in a Snow White costume beside a tense-looking Coleman as her egotistical boss Franklin Hart Jr.

Morgan Fairchild, who starred in Falcon Crest and Friends, described Coleman as a “great one”.

“So very sorry to hear of the death of the wonderful #DabneyColeman”, she wrote on X alongside a black and white photo of them together.

“We went out for a bit in the ’80s and I adored him. This town has lost one of a kind!”

Coleman “took his last earthly breath peacefully and exquisitely” in his Santa Monica home on Thursday, his daughter said in a statement on Friday on behalf of the family.

“My father crafted his time here on Earth with a curious mind, a generous heart and a soul on fire with passion, desire and humour 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.”

Actor Dabney Coleman in Los Angeles in 1989. Pic: AP
Image:
Coleman in 1989. Pic: AP

Ben Stiller, Zoolander and Meet The Parents actor, praised Coleman for paving the way for character actors.

“The great Dabney Coleman literally created, or defined, really – in a uniquely singular way – an archetype as a character actor.

“He was so good at what he did it’s hard to imagine movies and television of the last 40 years without him.”

Dabney Coleman with Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in 1980 Credit: Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/IPX
Image:
Coleman with Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in 1980 Credit: Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/IPX

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Coleman starred in a number of films and TV series in the 1960s, then made his breakthrough as a corrupt mayor in the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, in 1976.

His film credits include a computer scientist in WarGames, Tom Hanks’ father in You’ve Got Mail and a chief firefighter in The Towering Inferno.


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He won a best actor Golden Globe for The Slap Maxwell Story and an Emmy for best supporting actor in Peter Levin’s 1987 legal drama Sworn To Silence.

Coleman also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the cast of crime drama Boardwalk Empire and received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his starring role in the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill.

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