Dom DeLuise

The rotund comic who was a perfect sidekick

The rotund comic who was a perfect sidekick

1933–2009

There was nothing subtle about the comedy of Dom DeLuise, who has died at 75, said The New York Times. With his “chubby face and hysterical laugh,” he specialized in broad, knockabout humor. Usually he played “a nervous sidekick, a schmo, or a preposterous fraud.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

DeLuise, the son of a Brooklyn, N.Y., garbage man, got his start playing Scrooge in a junior-high production of A Christmas Carol, said Los Angeles Times. “I became a comedian,” he recalled, “when they laughed at my serious acting.” After graduating high school he worked for several years at the Cleveland Play House, “where he appeared in productions as varied as Guys and Dolls and Hamlet.” Returning to New York to appear in The Jackass off-Broadway, he made his film debut in Fail-Safe (1964), in an atypical role as a distraught Air Force sergeant. Eventually he broke through on The Garry Moore Show as Dominick the Great, an inept magician whose tricks always went wrong. In one of many appearances on The Dean Martin Show, he was a loudmouthed caddie who announced, “I’m sorry I’m late. I had a flat tire. That’s the first time I had a hole in one.”

With his “facility for slapstick,” the roly-poly DeLuise was a favorite of director Mel Brooks, who cast him in several movies, said the London Guardian. “Like some crazy World War I general, he encouraged DeLuise to go over the top.” In Blazing Saddles (1974), he was a flamboyant film director, “showing the chorus boys how to dance”; in History of the World Part I (1984), he played a flatulent Emperor Nero, “who has stand-up Roman comedian Brooks executed for making fat jokes.” DeLuise also had a long association with Burt Reynolds, appearing with him most memorably as “a manic Polish-American patient in a psychiatric hospital” in The End (1978).

DeLuise, who at one point in the 1990s reportedly weighed 325 pounds, was also an accomplished chef who often demonstrated recipes on TV and wrote three cookbooks, including Eat This: It Will Make You Feel Better (1988).

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us