Coughlin perhaps was best known in the Danbury area for his portrayal of
Sheriff Jack at Two Steps. Maybe it wasn't his most demanding role.
Or even his most celebrated.
But Coughlin, a former
Danbury resident who passed away July 2 in Los Angeles at the age of 47, ran
with the gig anyway. He loved playing Sheriff Jack in the old "Wild West
Show" dinner skit at Two Steps Downtown Grille a decade ago.
"I remember how much my nieces and nephews loved those shows," said Coughlin's brother, Chris. "Dave was born to be a performer. At Danbury High School, they used to do these variety shows and he was in almost every scene."
Chris and Dave were born six years apart, the youngest of Jim and Audrey Coughlin's six children. For a long time, Chris was the sidekick, the kid brother with stars in his eyes.
"Growing up, I was always Dave's brother. Nobody ever knew my name in Danbury," said Chris Coughlin, who lives in Sherman now. "It wasn't easy following in his footsteps. But at the same time, I was very proud to be his brother."
Dave Coughlin is survived by four other siblings and spouses -- Daniel Coughlin of Bethel and his wife, Joanne; James Coughlin of Newtown and his wife, Marge; Virginia Kiraly of Glastonbury and her husband, John; and Audrey Coughlin of Danbury.
On Sunday, family and friends will gather at Two Steps from 2 to 5 p.m. for one final performance, an encore celebration of Dave Coughlin, the man who rounded up Black Bart and saved the day.
"His nickname was Super Dave. He was just super to everyone," said Keith O'Marra, who co-owns Two Steps with Tom Devine. "No one ever had a bad thing to say about him. Dave was one of a kind. To me, he was family."
In 1996, after building his resume in New York with commercial spots and independent films, Dave Coughlin headed to Los Angeles to hone his craft.
Before long, he landed bit parts in "Wag the Dog" with Dustin Hoffman and "Air Force One" with Harrison Ford.
"Dave could always make everybody laugh. He lit up a room whenever he came in," said Lockey Coughlin, Chris' wife. "I remember this one time, he came back to visit and brought a football signed by (ex-New York Jets quarterback) Joe Namath for my son, Tucker.
"He just had this way of running into people and making friends. He had a gift that way," she went on. "He was unaffected by stardom or celebrity. To him, people were just people."
Another time, Dave Coughlin brought home a souvenir for his mother.
In 1967, we took "this family picture with my mother, my father, myself and Dave standing outside the Palace Theater with 'The Graduate' on the marquee," Chris said, referring to the blockbuster film starring Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
Then, "when Dave did 'Wag the Dog' with Dustin Hoffman, he had a copy of that picture made and Dustin Hoffman signed it for my mother. But that was Dave. He was always thinking of other people."
Lockey Coughlin still remembers the first time she saw "Wag the Dog" on the big screen in 1997.
"In this one scene, he's singing in the chorus and they just stop the camera on his face. It takes up the entire screen," she said. "He looks so happy."
This is the Dave Coughlin his family wants you to remember Sunday. And beyond.
"Even though Dave moved out to the West Coast, we stayed in touch with this little game we used to play," O'Marra said. "He could be at a sporting event, a concert, on vacation, whatever, and he'd call me and say, 'Hey, Keith, guess where I am now?'
"A lot of times, I wasn't even in the right country," O'Marra added. "Just about a month ago, he called me from Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. He was there for a friend's wedding."
Over the past few days, as news of Dave Coughlin's passing has spread through town, the phone hasn't stopped ringing at Two Steps, O'Marra said.
Now, if he listens hard enough, O'Marra can almost hear his buddy on the other line: "Hey, Keith, guess where I am now?"
It's hard to say for sure, but it's a good bet there's a new sheriff in heaven.
Contact Brian Koonz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (203) 731-3411.
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