Thursday, October 21, 2021

John P. Coates, Emmy-winning ‘Electric Company’ star, dies at 89

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John P. Coates, a comedian, actor and filmmaker whose career includes hundreds of films and series and 37 Emmy wins, has died at age 89.

Coates died March 23 in Woodland Hills, Calif., according to the Museum of Television & Radio. No cause of death was given.

The actor appeared in more than 200 films and TV shows as well as dozens of personal appearances, including the classic 1946 Doris Day vehicle “Love to Love You, Baby” and “A Doll’s House,” in which the notorious Patricia Neal and Anne Bancroft played

the married wife and best friend of actresses Anne Jeffreys and Phyllis Dietrichson. He also co-starred in The Electric Company in the 1960s, when his memorable character was a dorky, overweight high school art teacher.

He made a number of guest appearances on television shows in the 1960s, including Columbo, Bonanza, Perry Mason, All in the Family, The Love Boat, The Odd Couple, Diff’rent Strokes, Night Court, Twilight Zone, Bewitched, Life with Judy Garland and Gunsmoke.

Coates’ second wife, Constance Levin, who died in 2012, appeared with him in such films as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “In Old Chicago,” “Kiss of Death,” “Green Card,” “Crying Game,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “A Very Brady Sequel,” “Airplane!,” “Alien,” “Alien Resurrection,” “Scooby Doo,” “Scarface,” “A Very Brady Sequel 2,” “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” “Dusty and the Bandit,” “Smokey and the Bandit II,” “A Star Is Born,” “Aliens,” “Scream,” “Triangle,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Black Rain,” “Solaris,” “Encino Man,” “Night Gallery,” “Las Vegas,” “Moonstruck,” “Freaky Friday,” “The Last Waltz,” “Urban Cowboy,” “Hudson Hawk,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Wild Wild West,” “Fancy Nancy,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “The Krays,” “Night at the Museum,” “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” “Monopoly,” “Lost in America,” “Rent,” “The Simpsons,” “The Simpsons Movie,” “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Agnes of God,” “The Woodsman,” “Seinfeld,” “Smallville,” “Battlestar Galactica” and the Halloween-themed movie “Freaky Friday,” for which he received the Academy Award for best visual effects. He also received Academy Award nominations for the 1974 movie “Mickey” and the 1986 film “The Last Starfighter.”

Coates was born in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 4, 1926. He graduated from Harvard College in 1948 and received a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1950 from Oberlin College in Ohio. While attending Oberlin, he appeared in numerous stage productions and off-Broadway shows, including the sitcom “The Doubtfire,” which starred his wife.

Coates was the president of MTM Enterprises, the entertainment company founded by Norman Lear, from 1968 to 1969.

In addition to wife Levin, survivors include three sons from his first marriage, David P. Coates, Kevin A. Coates and Adam D. Coates, a stepson, William Coates, and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at UCLA on May 6 at 2 p.m.

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