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Dabney Coleman, ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Tootsie’ star, dead at 92

CBS via Getty Images

Dabney Coleman, best known for his role as the sexist boss of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin‘s characters in the 1980 hit 9 to 5, has died. His daughter Quincy Coleman said in a statement to ABC News that he died Thursday, May 16, at age 92, at his home in Santa Monica, surrounded by 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 humor that tickled the funny bone of humanity,” she continued. “As he lived, he moved through this final act of his life with elegance, excellence and mastery.”

The statement concluded, “…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’s early roles included parts in The Towering Inferno and TV shows like That Girl, The Fugitive, Bonanza and Columbo. He also starred as Fernwood mayor Merle Jeeter in the soap opera satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. But he finally broke through in 9 to 5 as Franklin Hart, the boss who mistreats his female underlings until they get their revenge on him. In 1982, he starred in Tootsie as  the sexist director of the soap opera in which Dustin Hoffman‘s character is cast.

Coleman’s other film roles included 1979’s North Dallas Forty, 1981’s On Golden Pond, 1983’s WarGames, 1984’s Cloak and Dagger, 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan, 1998’s You’ve Got Mail and two big-screen remakes of classic TV shows: 1987’s Dragnet and 1993’s The Beverly Hillbillies.

On TV, Coleman won an Emmy for the 1987 TV movie Sworn to Silence and was nominated for his starring role as the title character in the sitcom Buffalo Bill.  He also starred in the TV series The Slap Maxwell Story, appeared in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire for two seasons, and had a guest role as the father of Kevin Costner’s character in Yellowstone.

Coleman is survived by his sister, four children and five grandchildren.

Lily Tomlin’s official X page posted a photo of Tomlin and Coleman together onscreen in 9 to 5, with the caption, “We just loved him.”

 

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