Dabney Coleman dies: Stars pay tribute to Tootsie and 9 to 5 actor

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Stars have lined up to pay tribute to Dabney Coleman, the best-loved cad in Hollywood

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

Coleman was best known for portraying villains such as the sexist boss in the 1980 hit comedy 9 To 5 and the nasty TV director in the 1982 satire Tootsie. Tomlin, who also starred in 9 To 5 with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, said of Coleman “we just loved him”.

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In her post to X, formerly Twitter, 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.

Meanwhile, Falcon Crest and Friends actress Fairchild described Coleman, who she dated briefly in the 1980s, as a “great one”.

“So very sorry to hear of the death of the wonderful #DabneyColeman”, she wrote 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! He put his own indelible stamp on every part & was also a helluva nice guy! My condolences to his family. We lost a great one.”

Hollywood star Ben Stiller praised Coleman for paving the way for character actors as he paid tribute on X. He wrote: “The great Dabney Coleman literally created, or defined, really – in a uniquely singular way — an archetype as a character actor.

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

US actor James Woods also said: “Love seeing so many friends, colleagues and admirers of one-of-a-kind legend, Dabney Coleman, paying tribute. #RIPDabneyColeman.”

John Ales, who starred alongside Coleman in sitcom Madman Of The People, remembered him as a “complicated, hilarious genius” as he paid tribute. As a kid I don’t think I found any villain more likable than mean Dabney Coleman”, he wrote on X alongside a picture of the late actor.

“We shared a birthday. Months after my dad passed away, Dabney played my dad for the 1st time. We had countless dinners together. He was a complicated, hilarious genius who was so sweet to my mom.”

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Bruce Campbell, know for playing Ash Williams in the Evil Dead horror franchise, said: “I’ve played a few jerks in my day, but this fellow made high art out of being an A #1 cad. Safe travels, Dabney!”

After featuring in a number of films and TV series in the 1960s, the moustachioed actor made his breakthrough as a corrupt mayor in the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, from 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.

He won a best actor Golden Globe in a musical or comedy TV series 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. Most recently he appeared in television shows Boardwalk Empire, NCIS and Yellowstone.

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Quincy Coleman told The Hollywood Reporter her father died at his home in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday. “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 in a statement to the US outlet. “As he lived, he moved through this final act of his life with elegance, excellence and mastery.”

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