Dom DeLuise, who spiced up such movies as “Blazing Saddles,” “Silent Movie” and “The Cannonball Run” with his manic delivery and roly-poly persona, has died, his son’s publicist said.
Publicist Jay Schwartz did not disclose the cause of death, but DeLuise, 75, had been battling cancer for more than a year.
DeLuise was surrounded by family when he died in a Santa Monica, California, hospital Monday night, acording to his son, Michael DeLuise..
DeLuise was most famous for his supporting roles in a number of Mel Brooks films, including 1974’s “Saddles” — in which he played a flamboyant musical director who led dancers in a number called “The French Mistake” — and 1976’s “Silent Movie,” in which he played the assistant to Brooks’ director Mel Funn. He was also in the Brooks-directed “The Twelve Chairs” (1970), “Spaceballs” (1987) and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1993).
But he could also assay more serious roles, most notably in the 1980 dark comedy “Fatso,” in which he played an overweight man trying to wean himself from comfort food. The film was directed by Brooks’ wife, Anne Bancroft.
Dominic DeLuise was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 1, 1933. In the 1960s he had bit parts in a handful of movies, including “Fail Safe” (1964), but became well known as a regular on “The Entertainers” and a Dean Martin variety show. He had his own summer replacement show in 1968 and was a regular on Glen Campbell’s “Goodtime Hour” in 1971-72.
DeLuise had three sons — Peter, Michael and David — who all became actors. He told Larry King that it was the “joy of my life” to work with his oldest son, Peter, when he directed the film “Second Nature.”
His wife of 40 years, actress Carol Arthur, appeared in several movies with him, including “Blazing Saddles” and “Silent Movie,” according to DeLuise’s Web site.
DeLuise worked closely on several films with pal Gene Wilder, who in 2002 told Larry King that of all of his co-stars, DeLuise “makes me laugh the most.”
Well, there you have it; a brief summation of a life lived in service of making others laugh.
I always liked Dom DeLuise and thought him to be a kind and gentle man. Laughter was important to him because he knew that it was important to his fans. And when it came to delivering the comedy, he rarely ever failed.
I realized that he was everything I thought him to be when he came to KLOL-FM, a now osbolete, but once storied and widly popular FM rocker that raised generations of SE Texas. I worked there for most of the 90’s and in 1997, I had the priveledge of booking him as a guest on the Stevens and Pruett Show, a Southeast Texas morning radio staple. The show was hilarious, if I say so myself and a little on the blue side of comedy.
Simply put, Dom DeLuise had a blast doing our show and was, in a word—wonderful. He was bright and alive and you couldn’t help but be drawn to him.
His handlers called me before the show and made said something to the affect that Dom would require sustenance for his hour long interview. But it had to be something had “protein and was kind of diety“.
I went to a supermarket not far from the station in order to buy and comply. I knew he loved his food. He was something of a chef in his own right and I knew he’d written a few cookbooks, but he never bemoaned the fact that he had always been rather tubby. To the point where I often mistook Dom for Cajun/Creole Chef Extraordinaire and fellow heavy weight, Paul Prudhomme when he was at his heaviest.
See the resemblance?
Anyway, I bought a half pound of sodium reduced ham and turkey and a 4 oz. container of small curd cottage cheese and a small box of Triscuits.
I took it back to the station where I proceeded to make “Dom’s Diet Crepe WannaBe’s a la Laurie”.
He arrived a few minutes later and with black coffee, a large bottle of water and a lovely, doily-covered wicker tray containing his ham and turkey roll-ups, surrounded by a sea of Triscuits.
He walked in at 8:45 AM and when the show ended an hour and 15 minutes later, the meats and cottage were gone and I had just under a quarter of the box of Triscuits left. I of course, kept a few and stried to sell the rest to the higheast bidder.
No takers. I gave a few away and actually, ended up saving the box, but for some reason, I didn’t get him to sign the box. I shake my head in disbelief when those moments of clarity hit and I realize I didn’t get the box autogaphed.
I certainly regret it today.
After the show ended, this lovely man, sated from a rather impromptu brunch, stood up and hugged the entire staff, then graciously thanked us for a wonderful morning. He also agreed to photo ops.
You are about to see one such opportunity.
I was walking back from the KLOL staph bathroom and noticed Dom was hugging one of the administrative assitants. They were blocking my entry back into the studio. So, I was able to hide behind Dom as he hugged young Dot, but balls and audacity took over when I heard the photographer count to three. So when Mr Minolta got down to “three”, I lept out. Oh yeah…that’s not a zit on my nose either, though 12-years after the fact, I can’t remember exactly what it was.
Anyhoo, here’s my goofy, unbecoming large mouth bass impersonation that was regrettably, captured on Kodak paper for posterity:
Goodbye Dom. Sleep well and thank you for the memories.