Dom DeLuise, the jovial comic who enlivened such madcap films as Cannonball Run, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs, has died. He was 75.
Often working with Burt Reynolds or Mel Brooks, the bearded, roly-poly actor was known for a sharp, distinctive, almost howling laugh that fills the outtakes reel of Cannonball Run — a testament to the joyous time he had with Reynolds.
"I was thinking about this the other day," Reynolds said in a statement released to TVGuide.com. "As you get older, and start to lose people you love, you think about it more, and I was dreading this moment. Dom always made you feel better when he was around and there will never be another like him. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much."
DeLuise's death was confirmed Tuesday by a representative for his son, David DeLuise. No details were immediately available.
"It's easy to mourn his death," his family said in a statement, "but easier to remember a time when he made you laugh."
He hosted Candid Camera from 1991-92, and starred in two incarnations of The Dom DeLuise Show in 1968 and 1987. He shared his love of food, especially Italian cooking, through his show Cooking with Dom DeLuise and by authoring several cookbooks.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1933, he broke out as a performer on Dean Martin's show, playing a disastrous magician named Dominick the Great. His on-screen partnership with Reynolds included The Cannonball Run and The Cannonball Run II, Smokey and the Bandit II, The End, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and All Dogs Go to Heaven.
DeLuise invoked everything from fussy mannerisms to broad ethnic caricatures to get laughs, but seemed especially happy to make fun of himself, as he did as Pizza the Hutt in Brooks' 1987 film Spaceballs. Other DeLuise collaborations included The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, History of the World, Part I, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
He also appeared in the Orpheus in the Underworld at the Los Angeles Opera Company in 1989, and the next year performed with New York's Metropolitan Opera as Frosch, the jailer, in the comic production Die Fledermaus. He ad-libbed his role in English while the singers performed in German.
DeLuise also directed the film Hot Stuff and directed at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter, Fla.
Married to actress Carol Arthur, he was the patriarch of a show business family that also included his sons Peter, Michael, and David DeLuise. Peter DeLuise is best known for co-starring with Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street, which also featured Michael DeLuise. The two brothers also appeared together on SeaQuest DSV, on which Dom and David DeLuise also appeared.
Memorial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, DeLuise's family asked that donations be made to The Elixir Fund, The Lily Sanctuary, the Hydrocephalus Foundation, Inc., or Pearl S. Buck International.