DeLuise, Dom

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DeLuise, Dom

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  • De Luise, Dom
  • Luise, Dom De
  • DeLuises, Dom

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Dominick DeLuise was born August 1, 1933, to Italian immigrants John and Vicenza DeLuise in Brooklyn, NY. He is the youngest of their three children with a sister, Antoinette (Anne) Daurio, and a brother Nick (deceased). He graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in New York and attended Tufts University in Boston, MA, all while concentrating on acting. He pursued that goal after college at the Cleveland Play House before moving back to New York.

In New York he landed a succession of theatrical roles including significant parts in Little Mary Sunshine, All for Love, and a revue called Another Evening with Harry Stoones, which also featured a young Barbra Streisand. At the same time, he began appearing in short films (The Ordeal of Thomas Moon) and developing the cabaret character “Dominick the Great,” a magician whose tricks never worked but whose comic persona did. His first TV appearance was on New York’s The Shari Lewis Show in the recurring role of Kenny Ketchum, private detective. He hit prime time with The Garry Moore Show in 1964 and blossomed that same year on the series The Entertainers, sharing the stage with Carol Burnett, John Davidson, Bob Newhart, Ruth Buzzi, Caterina Valenti, and other young talents.

Dom made his Broadway debut in 1963’s The Student Gypsy. In 1965, he married actress Carol Arthur (High Spirits, On the Town), whom he met while they were both performing in Provincetown, MA. In 1966, he became a regular on The Dean Martin Summer Show and in 1968 became the host of his own The Dom DeLuise Show.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s DeLuise made frequent appearances on The Dean Martin Show, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He began working in features with a small dramatic role in Fail-Safe (1964) directed by Sidney Lumet, who had been his teacher at the High School of Performing Arts. His comedy career began in earnest in 1966 when Doris Day specifically requested that he play her comic foil in The Glass Bottom Boat.

In 1970, DeLuise began working with Mel Brooks on The Twelve Chairs and became well known for his roles in Brooks’s Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, History of the World Part 1, Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. He became Burt Reynolds’s favorite male co-star (and good friend) in The Cannonball Run I and II, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Smokey and the Bandit II. He also supported Gene Wilder in The World’s Greatest Lover and Haunted Honeymoon. In 1979 he made his directorial debut with the film Hot Stuff.

Throughout his career, Dom moved effortlessly between television and feature films, a rarity in an era in which performers were compartmentalized. He served variously as guest star (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), game show guest (Hollywood Squares), talk show co-host (Mike Douglas Show) and series host (Candid Camera). The videos in the American Comedy Archives preserve almost this entire legacy and are from Dom DeLuise’s personal library.

During the 1980s and 1990s DeLuise appeared in several television ads and print advertising campaigns, most notably for Bertolli Olive Oil, Macy’s, Tools of the Trade, and Orkin. In addition to his continuing acting career, he developed two cookbooks under the title of, “Eat This…It’ll Make You Feel Better!” and made television appearances to perform cooking demonstrations.

DeLuise also wrote six children’s books and lent his voice to such animated films as An American Tail, and All Dogs Go To Heaven and various Cartoon Network shows.
In the late 1990s, he performed as Frosch the jailer in the Metropolitan Opera production of Die Fledermaus, adding to his repertoire of onstage performances: LUV, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Little Shop of Horrors, and others.

The DeLuises have been associated with several charity organizations, notably the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, and also the Professional Dancers Society, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Society of Singers.

Dom and Carol DeLuise have three sons: Peter, an actor-director, born in 1966; Michael, an actor and fine artist, born in 1969; and David, an actor-director, born in 1971. The DeLuises have three grandchildren: Riley, Dylan, and Jake.

Dom DeLuise died on May 4, 2009 in Santa Monica, CA.


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