Dabney Coleman

Active - 1965 - 2018  |   Born - Jan 3, 1932 in Austin, Texas, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Coleman attended a Virginia military school before studying law and serving in the army. While attending the University of Texas, Coleman became attracted to acting, and headed to New York, where he studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse. After stage experience and TV work, Coleman made his movie debut in 1965's The Slender Thread.

Minus his trademarked mustache for the most part in the mid-1960s, Coleman specialized in secondary character roles. He began to branch into comedy during his supporting stint as obstetrician Leon Bessemer on the Marlo Thomas sitcom That Girl, but his most memorable role would come in 1980 as the nasty, chauvinistic boss in 9 to 5. He would go on to appear in other films, like On Golden Pond [1981], The Beverly Hillbillies [1993], You've Got Mail [1998], and Moonlight Mile, but the actor found more success in television, appearing on a few cult hits that were tragically cancelled, like Drexell's Class and Madman of the People, as well as The Guardian, Courting Alex, Heartland, and Boardwalk Empire.

Movie Highlights

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  • While studying law at University of Texas, met actor Zachary Scott, who inspired him to leave school and move to New York to pursue an acting career.
  • Made his Broadway debut in 1961's A Call on Kuprin.
  • Unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of the Professor in Gilligan's Island.
  • Has had roles on several short-lived television cult classics including, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Fernwood 2 Night; and  Buffalo Bill.
  • Successfully treated for age-related macular degeneration, an ailment that is the leading cause of blindness for people over 55.