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James Coco

James Coco


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Also Known As: Died: February 25, 1987
Born: March 21, 1930 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... actor waiter toy salesman dishwasher night clerk


Rotund, comic supporting actor who after establishing himself as an Off-Broadway and Broadway star began to be cast in TV and film, yet never found "the perfect role" to catapult him into true star status. Coco often came off as fey and gluttonous in his TV and film portrayals, yet he was one of famed acting teacher Uta Hagen's star pupils and worshipped her in kind. He made an impact almost immediately after establishing himself -- after years of menial jobs -- on stage in "The Moon in the Yellow River" and did play after play until Neil Simon created the role of Barney Cashman specifically for Coco on "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" on Broadway, for which Coco received a Tony nomination. Coco began to get film roles after that and subsequently appeared less frequently on stage. He was in support of Liza Minnelli in "Tell Me What You Want, Junie Moon" in 1970, and Sancho Panza in the unsuccessful film adaptation of "Man of La Mancha" in 1972. His two best film roles came thanks to Neil Simon (again). In "Murder By Death" (1978) he was a Hercule Poirot take-off, and in "Only When I Laugh" he gave a sensitive and endearing performance as Jimmy Perino, friend to Marsha Mason but enabling her dependencies. He was Oscar-nominated for the latter. He was also known to the public for two TV series that won the critics but failed in the ratings: "Calucci's Department," in which he was the wisecracking head of an unemployment office, and "The Dumplings," in which he was the male half of a married couple who loved each other, didn't mind being chubby, and ran a lunch counter in an office building. Just before he died, Coco did two episodes of "Who's the Boss?" as Tony's ne'er-do-well father-in-law. Coco, who was known for his girth, often demonstrated recipes on talk shows and wrote a diet book.

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