‘Bonanza’ and ‘Perry Mason’ Actor Jean Hale Coleman Dead at 82

by Jennifer Shea

Actress Jean Hale Coleman, who appeared in some of her era’s top TV shows, including “Bonanza” and “The Perry Mason Show,” has died at age 82.

Coleman died on Aug. 3 in Santa Monica, her family told Deadline.

Over the course of a long career in Hollywood, Coleman put in more than 60 appearances in movies and on TV shows. She also started a production company, Coleman-Tanasescu Entertainment, before ultimately going out on her own in 2000. And from 1961 until 1984, she was married to “Yellowstone” actor Dabney Coleman.

Jean Hale Coleman Played Many Parts on Film and TV

Coleman appeared on TV for decades, with significant roles in hit TV shows such as “Bonanza,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “McHale’s Navy,” “My Favorite Martian,” “The Perry Mason Show,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Cannon” and “The Wild Wild West.”

As for the movies, Coleman starred in the 1967 spy parody “In Like Flint” alongside James Coburn. She also appeared in “Taggart,” “McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force” and “The Oscar,” and co-starred with Jason Robards and George Segal in “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”

Coleman got her big break in the early 1960s, when Sandra Dee’s agent Len Luskin noticed her walking down 5th Ave. and got her a contract with 20th Century Fox.

Actress Was Born in Salt Lake City and Raised in Connecticut

Jean Hale Coleman was born in 1938 in Salt Lake City but grew up in Darien, Connecticut. Her father was a corporate executive of Mormon background and her great grandfather owned a ranch with Brigham Young.

After the University of Utah and Skidmore College, Coleman studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York. Among her teachers were Sydney Pollack and Martha Graham. And her contemporaries there included James Caan, Christopher Lloyd, Brenda Vaccaro and Jessica Walter, not to mention her future husband.

Jean Hale Coleman and Dabney Coleman would go on to have three children together: Kelly, Randy and Quincy. The same year they divorced, the late actress founded her production company.

According to family members, Coleman was a devoted mother and attentive grandmother who found her true calling in family life.