Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Dom DeLuise, RIP
I always liked Dom DeLuise. He was very funny in some of my favorite comedy movies -- the Cannonball Run I & II, Smokey and the Bandit II, The Muppet Movie, Spaceballs and many others. Back in 2002 I mailed him a trading card to autograph. Not only did he sign the card, but he also included an autographed postcard. RIP Dom.
From NY Daily News --
Brooklyn-born Dom DeLuise, the roly-poly movie foil to best buddy Burt Reynolds during a comedic career that spanned the last half-century, died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 75.
DeLuise, also a regular in director Mel Brooks's acclaimed comedies, passed away in his sleep at a Los Angeles hospital, according to TMZ.com.
DeLuise served as the rotund sidekick to matinee idol Reynolds in a series of films, an extension of their off-screen friendship.
The pair shared the big screen in "The End," "Cannonball Run I & II," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Smokey & the Bandit II."
"I was dreading this moment," Reynolds said in a statement to "Entertainment Tonight."
"Dom always made everyone feel better when he was around," Reynolds said. "I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much."
It was Brooks who kicked DeLuise's career into high gear, using him in movies from "The Twelve Chairs" in 1970 to "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" in 1993.
The portly DeLuise poked fun at himself as the grossly overweight Pizza the Hutt in Brooks's "Star Wars" send-up "Spaceballs." He also appeared in "Blazing Saddles" and "Silent Movie."
DeLuise attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York, landing his first paying job as "Bernie the Dog" in a children's theater troupe production of "Bernie's Christmas Wish."
He considered becoming a high school biology teacher before landing a series of off-Broadway roles, eventually leading to his 1968 Broadway debut in Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers."
His movie debut had come four years earlier, in Sidney Lumet's 1964 nail-biter "Fail-Safe." And DeLuise became a television regular, appearing with stars like Garry Moore, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett and the team of Rowan and Martin.
DeLuise hosted his own show, "The Dom DeLuise Variety Show."
The actor, known in his later years for his ever-present cap and salt-and-pepper beard, became one of Hollywood's most beloved characters.
In addition to his on- and off-screen collaborations with Brooks and Reynolds, DeLuise starred with pal Gene Wilder in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" and "The World's Greatest Lover."
He also co-starred with Anne Bancroft in "Fatso," a film written and directed by Bancroft, Brooks's wife.
DeLuise provided the voices in a series of animated movies, including "Tigar" in Steven Spielberg's "An American Tale" and "Itchy" in "All Dogs Go To Heaven."
DeLuise's talents went beyond his acting career. He wrote a pair of cookbooks, "Eat This!" and "Eat This, Too!", filled with his favorite Italian recipes. He also wrote a pair of children's books.
The life-long opera buff appeared several times at the Metropolitan Opera, earning kudos for his work as Frosh the Jailer in Die Fledermaus."
DeLuise also performed at the White House for presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
He was the father of three sons - Peter, Michael and David - who followed DeLuise into acting. The quartet appeared together on several programs, including "3rd Rock From the Sun" and "SeaQuest DSV."
He and wife Carol were married for 43 years.