Actor, comedian, director, writer, producer, author, chef, bon vivant and all-around nice guy Dom DeLuise has died at the age of 75. According to news reports, Mr. DeLuise passed away in his sleep on Monday after a long illness. The son of Italian immigrants, Dominick DeLuise was born in New York City on August 1st, 1933 . In the early Sixties, the actor/comedian was appearing in a Broadway production of Here's Love when he was spotted by Garry Moore, who hired him to play the magician "Dominick the Great" on The Garry Moore Show. From there, he booked his first feature film roles playing Marvin Rollins in Diary of a Bachelor and Sgt. Collins in Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda. This was followed by the comedy The Glass Bottom Boat starring Doris Day in which he played Julius Pritter. DeLuise continued appearing on the big screen as well as on TV, guest-starring on dozens of series including The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Medical Center, Beverly Hills 90210 and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. He also starred in his own comedy series, Lotsa Luck (1973) and The Dom DeLuise Show (1987-1988).
Mr. DeLuise also appeared opposite his son Peter on 21 Jump Street (as Uncle Nick in Woolly Bullies), Peter and Michael on SeaQuest DSV (as Nick Piccolo in Vapors) and Peter, Michael and David on 3rd Rock From the Sun (as Mr. Pollone in Auto Eurodicka). He was also directed by Peter on Stargate SG-1 (as Urgo/Togar in Urgo).
Some of my favorite memories of Mr. DeLuise include his character of Dominick DiNapoli (Fatso) succumbing to the temptation of Chinese food and the end-credit outtakes between him and Burt Reynolds in such films as Smokey and The Bandit and Cannonball Run. More recently, I enjoyed a good laugh watching infomercial snippets of his performances on The Dean Martin Show.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Peter DeLuise through his work on Stargate, and over the years he arranged for me to interview his brothers Michael and David and, eventually, his father Dom. I spent almost an hour on the phone with Dom, and at one point he had to excuse himself to stir a pot of spaghetti sauce he had cooking away on the stove. Here is a snippet from our chat about how he became involved in Stargate.
"When Peter began working on Stargate, which is a series I really enjoy, either he or one of the producers suggested that they should write a part for me. My wife Carol and I have a little house in Vermont and we were visiting there. One day I was outside looking at the deer - I don't shoot them, I just look at them - and the people from Stargate called to ask if they could send me the script for Urgo. They did, I read it and said, 'I'll do it.' The chance to guest-star on a show that I admire and also work with my son Peter was an offer I couldn't pass up."
The world has lost a gifted individual as well as great human being. My condolences to Mr. DeLuise's wife Carol and their sons as well as extended family and friends.