Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dom DeLuise Passes On

Comic actor Dom DeLuise passed on Monday at the age of 75. He had been ill for some time.

Dom DeLuise was born on August 1, 1933 in Brooklyn. He graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan and then attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. It was in the late Fifties that his career began, among other things playing Tinker the Toymaker in the daytime children's show Tinker’s Workshop. He was a semi-regular on The Shari Lewis Show, on which he played an inept private eye. He also appeared on The Garry Moore Show, which was where he created Dominick the Great, a bumbling magician whose every trick failed as he desperately tried to maintain his composure.

Dom DeLuise made his debut on Broadway in the play The Student Gypsy in 1963, playing Muffin T. Ragamuffin D.D., Ret. He made his film debut in Diary of a Bachelor in 1964, followed by a more serious role in the film Fail-Safe later that year. It was also in 1964 that DeLuise appeared as a regular in the series The Entertainers. In the Sixties DeLuise appeared frequently in films and on television. He guest starred on such shows as The Munsters, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Dean Martin Show, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He had his own short lived series, The Dom DeLuise Show, in 1968. DeLuise also reappeared on Broadway, in Here's Love in 1963.

The Seventies was arguably the heyday of Dom DeLuise's career. He was a favourite of Mel Brooks appearing in several of the director's films, including The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, History of the World Part I, and Spaceballs. He also appeared in a number of other films in the Seventies, including Norwood, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, The World's Greatest Lover, Sextette (based on the Mae West play), The End, The Cheap Detective, and The Muppet Movie. On television he had his own short lived sitcom, Lotsa Luck, and guest starred on Medical Centre. Deluise also appeared on Broadway in Last of the Red Hot Lovers.

The Eighties saw Dom DeLuise appear in such films as Cannonball Run, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Johnny Dangerously, and Going Bananas. He lent his voice talent to The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, and Oliver and Company. He also appeared on the TV shows Amazing Stories, 21 Jump Street, and B. L. Stryker. From the Nineties into the Naughts he appeared in the movies Driving Me Crazy, Almost Pregnant, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Always Greener, It's All About You, and Breaking the Fifth. He appeared in such shows as Married with Children, SeaQuest DSV, Burke's Law, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He also provided voice work on such television cartoons as Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Fievel's American Tails, and Duck Dodgers.

There can be no doubt that Dom DeLuise was very funny. He may not have been leading man material, but in the proper part he could upstage anyone in the lead. In fact, he was among the best actors in Mel Brooks' films. Whether as Buddy Bizarre, the director in Blazing Saddles or Emperor Nero in History of the World: Part I, he was often among the funniest parts of the movie. It is sad to think that he has left us now.

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