Best known known for playing smarmy comic relief villains, like “Buffalo” Bill Bittinger in Buffalo Bill or Franklin Hart Jr in Nine to Five (1980), in a sixty year career, Coleman still naturally accrued a respectable amount of Geek Cred.

Dabney Coleman was born January 3, 1932 in Austin, Texas. He passed away May 16, 2024, in Santa Monica, California. He was 92.

His daughter Quincy Coleman, told TMZ : “My Father, Dabney Wharton Coleman, took his last earthly breath peacefully and exquisitely in his home on Thursday May 16th, 2024 at 1:50 PM.” A cause of death has not been revealed yet, but apparently, he had been in failing health for some time, as he cancelled an appearance in April.

Geek Cred

Mike Barnes of The Hollywood Reporter described him as the star “who made a career out of playing jerks.” We however, remember him for his roles on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Outer Limits, The Invaders, and The Zeta Project. He voiced Principal Peter Prickley in Disney’s Recess. He played Police Chief Frank Quimby in Inspector Gadget (1999) and Dr. John McKittrick in War Games (1983). Coleman played con artist Murray Plotsky in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). in the espionage adventure film Cloak and Dagger (1984), Coleman played the dual role of Hal Osborne and Jack Flack.

One of his best-known mundane roles was as soap opera director Ron Carlisle in the comedy Tootsie (1982). In the remake of Where the Red Fern Grows (2003) Coleman played the Grandpa.

Awards and Honors

Dabney Coleman was nominated for six Emmys, and won one. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award three times, and won once. He won two Screen Actors Guild Awards. He was nominated for both Emmy and Golden Globe for starring in Buffalo Bill. He was nominated for a CableAce Award for co-starring in Murrow as William S. Paley. He won his first and only Emmy for playing Martin Costigan in Sworn to Silence (1987). He won a Golden Globe for starring in Slap Maxwell.

Although best known for playing jerks on the screen, Coleman was liked and respected by those who knew him. Co-star Dolly Parton described him as “a great actor and became a dear friend.”

“He taught me so much when I was doing my first movie, 9 to 5, said Parton in an Instagram post. “He was funny, deep and smart. We remained friends through the years and I will miss him greatly as many people will.” Once again we are reminded that the roles actors play are often unlike their true selves.

He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014. He served his country honorably in the 1950s, in the U.S. Army. We thank him for his service. Dabney Coleman was married and divorced twice, and had four children. He was first married to Ann Courtney Harrell from 1957 to 195. They had one daughter, Medhan. His second marriage was to actress Jean Hale from 1961 to 1984. They had three children together, Quincy Coleman, Randy Coleman, and Kelly Johns.

Our condolences to his family. May his memory be a blessing.

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.