Monday, July 20, 2015

R.I.P. George Coe (1929-2015)

George Coe
On July 18, actor George Coe passed away in Santa Monica, CA after a long battle with an illness. While he may not seem like a household name, he is someone that has been everywhere, even in his later years. Among his many credits, he has appeared in films such as Kramer vs. Kramer and TV series such as Archer. His impressive resume spans many decades and he leaves behind a catalog of great work, having collaborated with some of the finest minds in drama and comedy. Even if you don't know his name, it is likely that you have seen his face in more than one place.

Coe was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York on May 10, 1929. Among his earlier credits was a gig on Broadway in 1957 as "M. Lindsey Woolsey" in Mame with co-star Angela Lansbury. He also appeared in On the Twentieth Century and Company. It was also during this period of his career where he did his sole directorial credit on the short film De Duva: The Dove, which earned him a Best Short Subject (Live Action) nomination. The short starred Madeline Kahn and was a satirical take on Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's melancholic, cold style of film making. While he didn't win, it gave his early career an impressive gem (watch below).

While De Duva: The Dove may not be his most remembered credit, it was the start down a road to a more impressive line-up. In 1975, he became part of the original cast of the "Not Ready for Primetime Players" on Saturday Night Live. While he never became a household name like Chevy Chase or John Belushi, he was part of the credited cast in the premiere. He would later be used in various sketches, but he was never credited again. The show would become a huge success and became one of the biggest institutions for sketch comedy, even producing a lot of comedy's most successful voices over the next 40 years.

Even if he never received another Oscar nomination, he had a brief gig in the film Kramer vs. Kramer as Jim O'Conner. The film would go on to win Best Picture and remains one of the most significant films about the American family's custodial battles. He would reunite with Lansbury on an episode of Murder She Wrote. He was prolific on screen and in TV with various roles ranging from Star Trek: The Next Generation to The Golden Girls to Gilmore Girls to The Legend of Korra. His last full time gig was on spy spoof series Archer as a butler named Woodhouse.

While his name may not be the most recognizable, he leaves behind an impressive resume that showed an ambitious actor willing to do anything. From his early days on Broadway to his satirical take on Bergman and Saturday Night Live, he leaves behind a diverse catalog as a character actor. He is an impressive force of nature that worked well with others and improved the projects that he worked on. Even if Coe never quite gets the respect he deserves, he definitely more than earns a lot of what he gets.

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