Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Tribute: Dom DeLuise

Dom DeLuise

Born: August 01, 1933
Died : May 04, 2009

After attending the High School of Performing Arts in New York, rotund comic actor Dom DeLuise secured his first professional job, playing Bernie the Dog with a children's theater troupe. He went on to work at the Cleveland Playhouse, then briefly considered becoming a high school biology teacher before landing a part in the off-Broadway production The Jackass. While appearing on Broadway in Meredith Willson's Here's Love, DeLuise made his TV bow on The Garry Moore Show as Dominic the Great, a lovably inept magician. In 1964, he was featured in his first film, billed as "Dom DeLouise" in the apocalyptic nailbiter Fail-Safe. That same year, he starred with Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart on the short-lived TV variety weekly The Entertainers. After a second film appearance in the Doris Day vehicle The Glass Bottom Boat (1965), DeLuise was signed to co-star with Rowan and Martin in a 1966 summer-replacement TV series. Two years later, he was hosting his own summertime weekly, The Dom DeLuise Show; one of the regulars on this outing was DeLuise's wife, comedienne Carol Arthur.

Soon afterward, his film career went into high gear thanks to director Mel Brooks, who cast him to excellent advantage in The Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), Silent Movie (1976), History of the World -- Pt. I (1981), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Likewise tapping into DeLuise's extensive comic repertoire was actor/director Gene Wilder, who gave the pudgy funster carte blanche in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975), The World's Greatest Lover (1978) and Haunted Honeymoon (1986). And when Mel Brooks' wife, Anne Bancroft, decided to give directing a try herself, she fashioned a full-length vehicle for DeLuise, Fatso (1980). Not to be left out, DeLuise directed a film himself, the amiable crime caper Hot Stuff (1980). All in all, DeLuise was afforded some of his best screen moments as Burt Reynolds' manic sidekick in The End (1978) and the Cannonball Run flicks. As funny verbally as visually, DeLuise has provided voice-overs to such animated fare as Oliver and Company (1987), An American Tail (1987), All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), and A Troll in Central Park (1994).

With all this activity, DeLuise still found time for additional television work, as star of the 1973 sitcom Lotsa Luck and the 1987 improvisational syndicated The Dom DeLuise Show; he is also credited for "additional oohs and ahhs" on the 1992 Saturday morning cartoon weekly Feivel's American Tails. A lifelong opera buff, DeLuise has been given the opportunity from time to time to perform with various opera companies; in 1995, he brought down the house at New York's Metropolitan in the role of Frosh the Jailer in +Die Fledermaus. As indicated by his girth, DeLuise is quite the gourmand, and has published a book on his favorite gastronomic concoctions, -Eat This: It Will Make You Better. Dom DeLuise is the father of three sons, two of whom, Michael and Peter DeLuise, have gone on to successful show business careers of their own.

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