James Coco

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James Coco
James Coco 1973.JPG
Coco in 1973.
Born (1930-03-21)March 21, 1930
New York City, New York, USA
Died February 25, 1987(1987-02-25) (aged 56)
New York City, New York, USA
Years active 1940s–1987

James Coco (March 21, 1930 – February 25, 1987) was an American character actor.

Early life and career[edit]

Born James Emil Coco in New York City, son of Feliche Coco, a shoemaker, and Ida Detestes Coco, James began acting straight out of high school.[1] As an overweight and prematurely balding adult, he found himself relegated to character roles. He made his Broadway debut in Hotel Paradiso in 1957, but his first major recognition was for Off-Broadway's The Moon in Yellow River, for which he won an Obie Award. For the next several years he worked steadily in commercials and on stage with emerging talents like Robert Drivas, Gene Hackman, Doris Roberts and Brenda Vaccaro and established stars such as Eileen Heckart, Jason Robards, Christopher Plummer, and Roddy McDowall.

Coco's first modern collaboration with playwright Terrence McNally was a 1968 off Broadway double-bill of the one-act plays Sweet Eros and Witness, followed by Here's Where I Belong, a disastrous Broadway musical adaptation of East of Eden that closed on opening night. They had far greater success with their next project, Next, a two-character play with Elaine Shore, which ran for more than 700 performances and won Coco the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. Sixteen years later, the two would reunite for the Manhattan Theatre Club production of It's Only a Play.

Coco also achieved success with Neil Simon, who wrote The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969) specifically for him. It earned him a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Play. The two later joined forces for a Broadway revival of the musical Little Me and the films Murder by Death, The Cheap Detective, and Only When I Laugh, for which he was Oscar- (and Razzie-)nominated.

Film and television roles[edit]

Coco's additional film credits include Ensign Pulver, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, Man of La Mancha, Such Good Friends, A New Leaf, The Wild Party, and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Three of his films were released posthumously: Hunk (1987), The Chair (1988) and That's Adequate (1989).

On television, Coco starred in two unsuccessful 1970s series, Calucci's Dept. and The Dumplings, and made guest appearances on many shows, including ABC Stage 67, The Edge of Night, Marcus Welby, M.D., Trapper John, M.D., Medical Center, Maude, Fantasy Island, Alice, Murder, She Wrote, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, and St. Elsewhere, for which he won an Emmy Award. One of his last TV assignments was a recurring role as Nick Milano on the sitcom Who's The Boss?.

In his final years, Coco became known for his cooking prowess (The James Coco Diet) publishing several best-selling cookbooks with his close friend, Marion Paone, and making frequent guest appearances on talk shows garbed in a chef's hat and apron.

He is referenced in The Simpsons episode "Moe Baby Blues" (2003) when Krusty remarks that the Sumatran Century Flower "smells worse than James Coco's ski boots." He was also referenced in Tree House of Horror IV as a blue demon force feeds Homer donuts as part of his ironic punishment. “I don’t understand it, James Coco went mad in fifteen minutes.”


Year Award Category Work Result
1972 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor Man of La Mancha Nominated
1982 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Only When I Laugh Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor Only When I Laugh Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor Only When I Laugh Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor St. Elsewhere Won


Coco died of a heart attack in New York City on February 25, 1987 at the age of 56. He is buried in St. Gertrude's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Colonia, New Jersey.


  1. ^ Newsmakers (1987) Detroit

External links[edit]