George Coe, an actor with extensive credits and a longtime activist in the Screen Actors Guild, died Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif., after battling a long illness. He was 86.
Coe acted for more than 50 years of film, television, commercial and stage work — mixing drama and comedy. He had a lengthy career as a commercial performer both on camera and voiceover, including six years as the voice of Toyota.
He served more than a dozen years on the SAG national board of directors, having the vice president title for two years and creating the template for what became SAG’s first low-budget production contract.
Coe was born in Jamaica, Queens. His Broadway theater career began in 1957 and included performing as M. Lindsey Woolsey opposite Angela Lansbury in the original cast of Jerry Herman’s “Mame” and as Owen O’Malley in “On The Twentieth Century.”
Coe was also an original member of “Not Ready For Prime Time Players,” the original cast of “Saturday Night Live,” and was credited as a cast member for the first show in October, 1975.
He portrayed the head of an ad agency in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1968 comedy short film “The Dove,” a parody of Ingmar Bergman’s films, which he co-directed as well as starred in.
Other feature film credits included “The Stepford Wives,” “Bustin’ Loose,” “Mickey and Maude” and “Funny People.”
Coe’s TV credits included “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Max Headroom,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Bones,” “Judging Amy,” “The King of Queens,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Columbo,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Gilmore Girls,” ” The Golden Girls” and “The West Wing.”
He voiced the character of Woodhouse in the FX animated series “Archer” and the Autobot Wheeljack in Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
The Hollywood Division of SAG awarded Coe with the Ralph Morgan Award for service to the guild in 2009. Coe was one of 16 SAG-AFTRA members who sued the union in 2013 over alleged mismanagement of foreign royalties.
“It is with heavy hearts that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to George Coe,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “He was a stalwart unionist and a tremendous presence in our union for many years. He served his fellow actors and the labor movement with conviction and pride. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.”
Coe’s survivors include his widow, Susan; twin daughters, Bickers and Jennifer Coe; and four grandchildren.
Service information is pending.