Born on this date: Dabney Coleman

Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5
Dabney Coleman with Dolly Parton in 9 to 5.

Film and TV actor Dabney Coleman turns 85 today, January 3, 2017. He is best known for playing smarmy, greedy characters, including Franklin Hart, the piggish boss in the 1980 film 9 to 5.

I first remember seeing Coleman on the TV show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in the late 1970s. He played Merle Jeeter, mayor of the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, and father of child evangelist Jimmy Joe Jeeter. Poor little Jimmy Joe was electrocuted when a television fell into the bathtub in which he was soaking.

Before he was famous, Coleman appeared in this commercial for Diet Delight canned fruit. Here, a fresh-faced Coleman frets about what the calories in regular canned fruit will do to his waistline. (Was this really a major concern among men in the 1960s?) But not to worry, Dabney! Diet Delight is artificially sweetened and has only half the calories of ordinary canned fruit.

Vintage Diet Delight commercial featuring Dabney Coleman (1960s)

As a side note, who in the world thought that putting the word “diet” in front of “fruit” would make it more appealing? Here’s a tip for you dieters out there: Fresh fruit has zero points on Weight Watchers. I know this for a fact.

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