Dennis Cole was an American actor and model. His tan, chiselled, athletic, and blond look of a typical California surfer garnered him spots in physique magazines and also gained him ground as an actor. During the 1960s and 1970s, Cole featured as a familiar face on-screen, whether in daytime soaps, prime-time series or mini-movies. Cole initially forayed into modelling and then worked as a stuntman before commencing his acting career. His real breakthrough in acting came with starring role of Detective Jim Briggs in television series ‘Felony Squad’. Other notable television roles of Cole include in series ‘Bearcats!’, ‘Bracken's World’ and ‘The Young and the Restless’. He also guest featured in many series like ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and ‘Charlie's Angels’. His film appearances include in ‘Pretty Smart’ and ‘Cave-In!’ Cole became an activist and spoke against violence on TV after he lost his only son Joe in a home invasion robbery attempt. Cole was also associated with different charitable organizations. His later career saw him getting into real-estate broking. He launched and operated real estate company Celebrity Realty, Inc with his third wife Marjorie Cole.
Childhood & Early Life
Dennis Cole was born on July 19, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan, US to Joseph C. Cole. His father was a musician during the 1940s and 1950s. Both his parents were alcoholics. They divorced when Cole was young. Cole’s father later took his own life.
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Cole started performing in Detroit and later relocated to Los Angeles in the 1960s. His tan, chiselled, blond surfer-fit looks led him to pose in different physique magazines for several photographers including Robert Henry Mizer. Cole also worked as a motion picture and television stuntman before commencing his acting career.
He featured in trivial roles and in background of some movie musicals. His first starring role was that of Duke Spalding, a spoiled rich boy, in the short-lived daytime soap ‘Paradise Bay’ (1965).
His big break in television came with the starring role of Detective Jim Briggs in the crime drama series ‘Felony Squad’. His portrayal of the hunky rookie detective sharing screen space with veterans Howard Duff and Ben Alexander in ‘Felony Squad’ that ran on ABC from September 12, 1966 to January 31, 1969, garnered Cole widespread recognition.
During 1969–1970, Cole featured as Davey Evans in first season of the NBC aired American drama series ‘Bracken's World’.
In 1971, Cole played starring role of Johnny Reach opposite Rod Taylor in the CBS broadcast Western television series ‘Bearcats!’.
Between 1981 and 1982, Cole played Lance Prentiss in the popular ongoing American television soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’.
He guest-featured in several television series including ‘Charlie's Angels’, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, ‘Three's Company’, ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘The Love Boat’ and ‘Vega$’. He made his final television appearance in a 1998 episode of the crime drama series ‘Pacific Blue’.
While thriving with his small-screen career, Cole made Broadway debut in 1972 with ‘All the Girls Came Out to Play’. He performed as Narrator in the musical ‘Blood Brothers’. The first national tour of musical Victor/Victoria saw him playing King Marchan. During such stint, Cole injured himself and underwent several surgeries. It took him three years to recover. He also featured in plays like ‘The Boys in the Band’, ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’ and ‘The Tender Trap’; in the British farces ‘Out of Order’ and ‘Run for You Life’; and in his own musical revue that was showcased on the Sunset Strip and in Las Vegas.
Over the years, he appeared in many low-budget action flicks like ‘Amateur Night’ (1986), ‘Pretty Smart’ (1987), ‘Dead End City’ (1988), ‘Death House’ (1988) and ‘Fatal Encounter’ (1990). He also appeared in films like ‘Cave-In!’ (1983) and ‘Wheels of Fire’ (1985), however could not make it big on big-screen.
Family & Personal Life
Cole married Sally Bergeron in November 1960. Their marriage lasted till 1965. Cole’s only son Joseph Dennis Cole also referred as Joe Cole was born through Sally on April 10, 1961.
Cole met actress Jaclyn Smith in 1976 while guest-starring on the set of ‘Charlie's Angels’. The two married on October 29, 1978. However, second marriage of Cole also culminated into divorce on July 23, 1981.
Joe grew up to become an American actor, writer and roadie for Black Flag and Rollins Band. He was shot to death in a December 19, 1991, armed robbery in the Venice section of Los Angeles. Following Joe’s death, Cole commenced his journey as an activist and spoke against violence on television. He became involved with Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation and raised awareness for victims of crime. Cole also remained involved with many charitable organisations including the Arthritis and Cystic Fibrosis foundations and over two decades with the Cancer Society (Honorary Chairman).
On September 24, 2004, Cole married Marjorie "Ree" Fritz and relocated to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He forayed into real-estate broking and together with Marjorie launched and ran the real estate company Celebrity Realty, Inc. The couple later ended their marriage on April 21, 2008.
Cole succumbed to renal failure on November 15, 2009 at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was interred at the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.