When Emmy-winning actor Dabney Coleman (center) was filming Tootsie, the comedy starring a cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman, he was sure it wasn’t working. “We knew it was going to be a bomb,” Coleman says. “We were all looking at each other, like, ‘So, how’s your career going?’ ” When the film was released, however, scoring awards and $177 million in box-office returns, Coleman, who played soap opera director Ron Carlisle, had to give director Sydney Pollack credit. “It was incredibly funny,” he says. “And I’m a tough laugh.”
Thirty years after its debut, Tootsie is still regarded as one of cinema’s best comedies. Coleman remembers the first day on set as Hoffman struggled to make a convincing woman.
“The first day on set was the first day I saw Dustin dressed as Tootsie. We had to call off the day of shooting because Dustin had too much beard. Work as they had in makeup — months of preparation — they put Dustin out there in front of the camera and the cameraman said, ‘This is not going to work. At all.’ So we scrapped the entire day. We closed down and went home. You tell me, did we finally get it right? All I know is Tootsie is one of the best movies I’ve ever been involved in, and one of the best comedies maybe ever.”