R.I.P. Dom DeLuise

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DCRage
5/5/09 12:48:12PM
The big funnyman who gave a lot of us-me included-big laughs over the years is gone. Word just broke that Dom DeLuise died last night.

Comedian-actor-director Dom DeLuise, who delighted audiences with his antic performances, has died.

He was widely recognized for his inspired comic characterizations. He hosted the "Dom DeLuise Variety Show" (1983-90). He starred as Stanley on the "Lotsa Luck" series. His TV career accelerated when he created the role of Dominick the Great on "The Garry Moore Show."

His chubby frame and daffy darting glances won him recognition on top variety shows of the '60s. He was widely popular on the "The Entertainers" series with Carol Burnett, and he also appeared for eight years on "The Dean Martin Show." He did memorable turns on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and "The Flip Wilson Show."

DeLuise garnered his own special, "The Bar-Tump Bump" He starred in his own special for ABC: "Dom DeLuise and Friends" from 1983-90. In 1991, he became host of the TV show "The New Candid Camera."

With his exuberant, manic glint, DeLuise was a popular guest on the talk shows, appearing with Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Steve Allen, Joey Bishop, David Frost, the Smothers Brothers and Flip Wilson. He was a frequent guest and occasional substitute host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

His roly-poly energy and high hysterics garnished several movies with his close friend Burt Reynolds, beginning with "The End" and including "Smokey and the Bandit II," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Cannonball Run II."

For Mel Brooks, DeLuise brought his inspired mania to "The Twelve Chairs," "Blazing Saddles," "Silent Movie" "History of the World -- Part I," where he did an uproarious spoof of Brando's Godfather, and "Spaceballs."

His raucous performances enlivened two Gene Wilder comedies, "The World's Greatest Lover" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother."

He also stared with George Segal and Natalie Wood in "The Last Married Couple in America" and was Kermit the Frog's agent in "The Muppet Movie."

In 1979, he made his movie directorial debut with "Hot Stuff," co-starring Suzanne Pleshette, Jerry Reed and Ossie Davis.

More recently, he appeared in "Little Shop of Horrors." He voiced several animations, including: "The Secret of NIMH," "An American Tail," "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West," and "Instant Karma."

He also served as executive producer of a TV movie, "Happy," in which he played the title role, a mystery that pitted a one-famous TV clown against a ruthless killer. His three sons -- David, Michael, Peter -- appeared with him in the 1983 TV movies.

DeLuise was born Aug. 1, 1932, in Brooklyn. He made his first off-Broadway appearance at age 8. After graduating from the High School of the Performing Arts, he attended Tufts College. During that time, he spent two seasons at the Cleveland Playhouse. He worked several summers on stage in Provincetown, N.J.

His made his New York debut in the off-Broadway production of "Little Mary Sunshine," followed by "All in Love," "Half Past Wednesday" and "Another Evening with Harry Stoons."

DeLuise made his motion picture debut in "The Glass Bottom Boat," starring Doris Day.

He delighted Broadway audiences in the Neil Simon comedy "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers," and also appeared in "All in Love" and the off-Broadway musical "Little Mary Sunshine." Other Broadways appearances include "The Student Gypsy" and "Here's Love." DeLuise toured with Mickey Rooney in "LUV."

Sidney Lumet cast him in his first dramatic role in "Fail-Safe." His early films also include "The Busy Body," "What's So Bad About Feeling Good?," "Norwood," "Harry Kellerman" and "Every Little Crook and Nanny." He also starred in a comedy titled "Fatso," directed for the American Film Institute by Anne Bancroft.

Onstage, DeLuise directed Burt Reynolds and Burnett in "Same Time, Next Year" at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter, Fla.

He penned two books on Italian cooking: "Eat This!" and "Eat This Too!"

He was married to his wife, Carol, since 1965.


He gave me many good laughs over the last 20 years or so between those Ziploc commercials and his other TV & movie work, especially in the Mel Brooks films. He seemed to be a guy who enjoyed comedy and making people laugh. Ciao, Dom, thanks for many great laughs.