Dom DeLuise: The Funnyman Mel Brooks & Burt Reynolds Relied On

Entertainment | September 14, 2018

Dom DeLuise having a laugh, and portraying the not-amused Emperor Nero in 'History Of The World, Part I.' Source: Getty/Moviepix; IMDB

Jolly and indulgent actor Dom DeLuise was a mainstay of '70s and early '80s film comedies, strongly associated with Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds. Some movies were funnier than others, but one thing was always abundantly clear: Dom DeLuise was having a blast. Whether he was playing Captain Chaos in a Cannonball Run movie or the slovenly Emperor Nero in History Of The World, Part I (1981), he committed to his role like the great funnyman he was. He was a big man who endured, or perhaps relished, fat jokes his entire career -- anything for a laugh. After a career in stage, TV, movie and vice acting, DeLuise contracted cancer and died, after a short battle with the disease, in 2009.

A Son Of Italian Immigrants

Left: DeLuise as the Roman Emperor in 'History of the World, Part I.' Right: Deluise with Dolly Parton in 'The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.' Source: IMDB

DeLuise’s parents came to the United States from Italy as immigrants. They arrived here in search of the great American dream. DeLuise’s father worked hard as a garbage man in order to give his family a better life. That would prove to be, at least for Dom DeLuise, a good move. If they had not made that leap of faith, DeLuise may not have ever gained the stardom he enjoyed throughout his lifetime.

Dom DeLuise had his first big acting break on when he appeared as “Dominick the Great,” an incompetent magician on The Garry Moore Show, a once popular variety show. DeLuise would later reprise the bit on The Dean Martin Show, so successfully that Martin invited him to become a regular player.

Early Career And Family

Naturally talented, Dom DeLuise held audiences captive with his quick wit, happy go lucky demeanor and bright personality. He was rarely seen on or off screen without an ear to ear, toothy smile on that round face of his.

DeLuise was always interested in theater and acting. Back in the '60s he was involved with summer theater which is where he met the love of his life; his wife, Carol. The two were made for each other and later married. They went on to have 3 talented sons who would follow in their father’s entertainer footsteps. The entire DeLuise family even acted together in a television movie in the early 80’s called Happy.

One Of Mel Brooks' Go-To Guys

Funny guy Mel Brooks has been known for his zany brand of comedy, for which he relied on some regularly recurring performers. DeLuise was a part of Brooks' inner circle or stable of actors, appearing in six of Brooks’ productions; The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and, possibly most notably, Emperor Nero in History of the World, Part I. In addition to stage and screen appearances, Dom DeLuise also appeared in voice acting roles in animated films produced by Dan Bluth.

DeLuise wasn’t just popular with audiences but was popular among his peers. Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds were well known to be long time best friends.

Burt's Best Buddy

Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds had a lot in common, including their keen sense of humor, and considered themselves to be best friends. They acted opposite each other in several box office hits including Smokey and the Bandit II, Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, The End, All Dogs go to Heaven and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. 

A Legacy Of Laughter

From summer theater, starring television and cameo roles to voice acting, big screen roles, game show host and children’s book author, Dom DeLuise never disappointed. He was a natural entertainer with so much to give and gave he did! Later in life he also became known as a celebrity chef and published a cookbook called Eat This… It’ll Make You Feel Better.  And that is all he ever wanted to do… make people feel better with his brand of comedy.  

Tags: Burt Reynolds | Dom DeLuise | Mel Brooks | What Did He Do?...

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.