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November 18, 2009

Actor-turned-Activist Dennis Cole Dies in Florida

Actor Dennis Cole, a very familiar face on screen during the 1960s and ’70s, began speaking against violence on television following the 1991 shooting death of his son in Venice, California.

Actor Dennis Cole, who began speaking against screen violence following the shooting death of his son in Venice, California, died November 15, 2009, at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cole's legions of fans recognize his face from his work on several 1960s and 1970s television series.

Born in 1940, the ruggedly handsome Cole began performing in his native Detroit and moved to Los Angeles in the ’60s. He worked as a model and stuntman before making the transition to acting.

His first roles came in television series such as Paradise Bay and Felony Squad.

In the ensuing years, he appeared in many other TV series, including The Young and the Restless, Bracken’s World, Bearcats!, Medical Center, Police Story, Fantasy Island, Trapper John, M.D., Murder, She Wrote and Charlie’s Angels.

While working on Charlie’s Angels he met actress Jaclyn Smith, one of the stars, whom he married in 1978. They divorced in 1981. It was the second marriage for both.

While working on a national tour of Victor/Victoria, Cole was injured and spent three years recovering. After his recovery, he became a real estate broker in Fort Lauderdale.

Following the 1991 death of a son from a previous relationship, who was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in Venice, California, Cole began to speak out against violence on television.

He worked with the Nicole Simpson family to raise awareness for victims of crime, as well as with the Cancer Society, the Arthritis and Cystic Fibrosis foundations and other charitable organizations.

He is survived by a brother.

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