Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dom DeLuise Dies

Comic actor Dom DeLuise has died at 75.

Although it has been awhile since DeLuise appeared in a film, his passing is a considerable loss for the entertainment industry.

His first film, according to All Movie Guide, was in 1958's "Tom Thumb," when DeLuise was in his mid–20s. I've never seen it, but it must have been a small part because AMG doesn't even list a name for his character in that film.

Six years later, he appeared in another film, "Diary of a Bachelor," which doesn't seem to have earned stellar reviews. But he had another small role in another film that year that did receive strong reviews — "Fail–Safe," a Cold War drama about a bomber squadron that, through misguided electronic transmissions, is accidentally sent on a mission to bomb Moscow.

In that film, DeLuise played an uncharacteristically dramatic role as a sergeant who must share with the Soviets — as a way of demonstrating the Americans' good intentions — the secrets for shooting down the elusive American bombers. His performance can be seen in the attached clip.

A couple of his co–stars in that movie also had some experience in comedies — Walter Matthau, who played a scientist, spent most of his film career getting laughs, and Larry Hagman, who played an interpreter, probably appeared in more dramas than DeLuise and Matthau combined, but there are those who will always think of "I Dream of Jeannie" whenever his name is mentioned.

Anyway, after "Fail–Safe," DeLuise settled into the kind of movies and TV roles that brought him fame and fortune.

He was a favorite of Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds, appearing in several of their films. He also made numerous TV appearances.

It's almost impossible to pick his best performance. Personally, I always liked his appearance in Reynolds' "The End," playing Reynolds' fellow mental patient, who tries to help Reynolds' character commit suicide.

But I enjoyed many of his performances.

And I shall miss him.