Dabney Coleman’s Most Memorable Roles

Drexell's Class Dabney Coleman, 1991-92
Tony Costa/20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Dabney Coleman may be best known for being a horrible boss in the hit movie 9 to 5, but he has starred in so many impressive movies and television shows. He truly had the career of a lifetime, with his final role being in the hit show Yellowstone. He recently passed away at the age of 92. Let’s start with a round-up of some of the most popular shows he appeared in in the 1970s.

‘Room 222’

At the start of the ’70s, Coleman appeared in two episodes of Room 222, where he played Gary Webster Sr. in the show about teacher Pete Dixon and how he aimed to teach his students to be more tolerant.


He went on to appear in an episode of Kojak during the first season. He played Alex Linden in the episode titled “Therapy in Dynamite.” In the episode, Kojak must find a pattern in serial murders where victims are bombed in New York City.

‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Archie Hahn (center), Dabney Coleman (right), 1976-78

Everett Collection

He starred as Merle Jeeter in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as the mayor of Fernwood and Jimmy Joe’s father. He reprised the role in the show Forever Fernwood.

‘The F.B.I.’

Coleman appeared in several episodes of the series The F.B.I., a show about the cases of you guessed it… The F.B.I. It covered everything you might expect: murders, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

Some other notable roles were in the shows Mannix, Quincy M.E., The Love Boat, Diff’rent Strokes, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Barnaby Jones. Let’s move on to where he really shined… 1980s movies.

‘9 to 5’

9 to 5 Dabney Coleman, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, 1980

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

He portrayed Franklin Hart Jr., the boss of Judy, Violet, Roz, and Doralee and was a sexist pig. Ultimately, he gets his just desserts though!


Tootsie l-r: Dabney Coleman, George Gaynes, 1982

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

In 1982, he appeared in Tootsie, a film about an actor with a reputation for being difficult. The actor, played by Dustin Hoffman, decides to dress up as a woman to get a job. In the film, Coleman plays the director Ron Carlisle.


WarGames Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, 1983

MGM/Everett Collection

The 1983 American techno-thriller film starring Matthew Broderick also starred Coleman as Dr. John McKittrick.

‘Cloak and Dagger’

Cloak and Dagger Dabney Coleman, Henry Thomas, 1984

Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

In this family-friendly spy movie, Coleman plays Jack Flack/Hal Osborne. The movie was written for its star Henry Thomas as a follow-up to his role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

‘Muppets Take Manhattan’

The Muppets Take Manhattan Dabney Coleman, Scooter, Janice, Floyd, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Kermit the Frog, Dr. Teeth, Miss Piggy, 1984

TriStar Pictures/Everett Collection

Coleman played the villain, a con artist named Martin Price in this Muppets classic. Of course, the Muppets come through in the end and his character, who is really named Murray Plotsky, is put under arrest. Next, let’s go over a few ’90s mentions!

‘You’ve Got Mail’

You've Got Mail Tom Hanks, Dabney Coleman, John Randolph, 1998

Warner Bros./Everett Collection

In this quintessential ’90s rom-com, Coleman played Nelson Fox, Joe’s father who is often very cynical about love and romance.

‘Stuart Little’

Stuart Little Dabney Coleman, 1999

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Coleman appeared in the kid’s movie Stuart Little as a doctor named Dr. Beechwood. He takes Stuart’s temperature after he fell into the dryer and tells his parents that he will be fine.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’

The Beverly Hillbillies from left: Dabney Coleman, Lily Tomlin, 1993

20th Century Fox Film Corp.Everett Collection

In the 1993 film, Coleman played the CEO of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills, Milburn Drysdale. He was also Margaret’s husband and Morgan’s father.

‘My Date With the President’s Daughter’

My Date With the President's Daughter (back, from left): Mimi Kuzyk, Dabney Coleman, (front): Elisabeth Harnois, Will Friedle, 1998

Walt Disney Television/Everett Collection

Coleman got to play the President of the United States in this Disney Channel classic film also starring Boy Meets World star Will Friedle.

Of course, there were so many more we could add to this list! What would you add? Coleman had almost 200 credits during his long career.

’80s Where Are They Now
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’80s Where Are They Now

March 2023

Who can forget all the great TV shows, movies and music of the ‘80s? See what your favs are up to now!

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