Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman
Dabney Coleman
Born Dabney Wharton Coleman
January 3, 1932 (1932-01-03) (age 79)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1961–present
Spouse Ann Courtney Harrell (1957–1959) (divorced)
Jean Hale (1961–1984) (divorced) 3 children

Dabney Wharton Coleman (born January 3, 1932) is an American actor, best known for his roles in 9 to 5, WarGames, You've Got Mail, Sworn to Silence, The Beverly Hillbillies and as the voice of Principal Peter Prickly in Recess and Recess: School's Out.


Early life

Coleman was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Mary Wharton (née Johns) and Melvin Randolph Coleman.[1][2] He entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1949, then studied law at the University of Texas before turning to acting.



Coleman is a character actor who has a wide range, with over 60 films to his credit. He is often typecast as a comic relief villain, the smarmy, devious foil to the main character. An early example of such features was his portrayal of an ethically absent Harrison Wilby in an Elvis Presley film, The Trouble with Girls.

Coleman's fate in these types of roles was cemented with roles such as that of Franklin Hart, Jr. in 1980's Nine to Five, a sexist boss whose murder is fantasized about by his office employees (Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin). That role reunited him with actress Marian Mercer, with whom he also worked on the TV series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; (He played Fernwood's mayor, Merle Jeeter and Marian played his second wife, Wanda Rittenhouse Jeeter). He broke from this type somewhat in his portrayal of military computer scientist John McKittrick in WarGames (1983).

In smaller, earlier appearances, he played a U.S. Olympic skiing team coach in the Robert Redford 1969 film Downhill Racer, a high-ranking superior to firefighter Steve McQueen in The Towering Inferno (1974) and a wealthy Westerner whose champion horse is entered in a long-distance race against that of Gene Hackman and others in Bite the Bullet (1975).

In 1987 he received an Emmy award for his role in the TV Movie Sworn to Silence.[3]

He was featured in the Academy Award-winning On Golden Pond (1981), playing the fiance of Chelsea Thayer Wayne (Jane Fonda) who visits Golden Pond to meet her parents, played by Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. Coleman played a Hugh Hefner-ish magazine mogul in the comedy Dragnet (1987) with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, befuddled banker Milburn Drysdale in the theatrical version of The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and a philandering father in You've Got Mail (1998).

Since its introduction in 2010, Coleman has been a series regular on HBO's epic, Boardwalk Empire.

Personal life

Coleman has been married twice. He was married to Ann Courtney Harrell from 1957 to 1959 and to actress Jean Hale from 1961 to 1984. He has four children: Meghan, Kelly, Randy, and Quincy. He resides in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles.[4]



  1. ^ Dabney Coleman Biography (1931-)
  2. ^ Dabney Coleman Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  3. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. pp. 1437. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  4. ^ Dabney Coleman, 2010, http://movielanddirectory.com/star.cfm?star=164380 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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