Dabney Coleman tributes pour in: ‘The best at playing guys who were the worst’

Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman was noted for playing despicable, unscrupulous characters on film and television, but Hollywood reacted with love for the actor after his death on Thursday.

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The six-time Emmy Award nominee, who won an Emmy for his role in 1987 drama “Sworn to Silence,” was 92. He also received acclaim for his role as the awful boss in “9 to 5,” and as an unethical host of a television talk show in the 1980s sitcom “Buffalo Bill.”

He played a prejudicial soap opera director in “Tootsie,” but was also Jane Fonda’s love interest in “On Golden Pond” (1981) and a flustered computer scientist in “WarGames” (1983), The New York Times reported.

Tributes flowed from co-workers and friends. Actor Ben Stiller, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, said that Coleman “literally created, or defined” an archetype as a character actor.

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

Actor James Woods, who voiced a character with Coleman on the 2001 animated movie “Recess: School’s Out,” also paid tribute, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve gone to Dan Tana’s restaurant regularly all my adult life. Dabney Coleman was always there, sitting in booth number one (appropriately), having his trademark steak,” Woods tweeted. “I had always loved him as an actor, and loved him more as we became friends. ##RIPDabneyColeman.”

Actor John Ales, who co-starred with Coleman in 16 episodes of “Madman of the People” during the mid-1990s, called the actor a likable bad guy.

“As a kid I don’t think I found any villain more likable than mean Dabney Coleman,” Ales tweeted. “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.”

Others also added their thoughts on social media:

Film critic Richard Roeper summed up Coleman’s appeal, tweeting that “he was the best at playing guys who were the worst.”

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