James Coco

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James Coco
James Coco 1973.JPG
James Coco in 1973.
Born (1930-03-21)March 21, 1930
New York City, U.S.
Died February 25, 1987(1987-02-25) (aged 56)
New York City, U.S.
Resting place Saint Gertrude Cemetery & Mausoleum, Colonia, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1940s–1987

James Emil Coco (March 21, 1930 – February 25, 1987) was an American character actor and singer. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Only When I Laugh (1981).[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in New York City, Coco was the son of Felice 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.[2]

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.[2]

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 (1976), The Cheap Detective (1978) and Only When I Laugh (1981), for which he was both Oscar-nominated and Razzie-nominated.[3]

Film and television roles[edit]

Coco's additional film credits include Ensign Pulver (1964), End of the Road (1970), The Strawberry Statement (1970), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), A New Leaf (1971), Such Good Friends (1971), Man of La Mancha (1972), Scavenger Hunt (1979), Wholly Moses! (1980) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) as well as a starring role in The Wild Party (1975). Several of his films were released posthumously: Hunk (1987) and That's Adequate (1989).[3][4]

On television, Coco starred on two unsuccessful 1970s series, Calucci's Department and The Dumplings, and made guest appearances on many series, including ABC Stage 67, The Edge of Night, Marcus Welby, M.D., Trapper John, M.D., Medical Center, Maude, Fantasy Island, Alice, The Eddie Capra Mysteries, Murder, She Wrote, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat and St. Elsewhere, for which he won an Emmy Award. One of his last television assignments was a recurring role as Nick Milano on the sitcom Who's the Boss?.[4]


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 Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor St. Elsewhere Won


Coco died in New York City on February 25, 1987, at age 56.[1] The Los Angeles Times states that he died of a heart attack.[3] He is buried in St. Gertrude's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Colonia, New Jersey.[5]



  1. ^ a b c Bennetts, Leslie (February 26, 1986). "James Coco, Character Actor On Stage and TV and in Films". The New York Times. p. 19.
  2. ^ a b James Coco at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  3. ^ a b c "Emmy Award-Winning Actor James Coco, 56, Dies of Heart Attack". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. February 26, 1987. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  4. ^ a b James Coco on IMDb
  5. ^ Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (Third ed.). McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 144. ISBN 978-1476625997. Retrieved 27 June 2018.

External links[edit]