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Dom DeLuise, actor, comedian and chef, dies at 75

Dom DeLuise, actor, comedian and chef, dies at 75

Dom DeLuise and an young fan in 1983 (photo by flickr user jelene)

Bob Thomas | Associate Press

LOS ANGELES – Dom DeLuise, the portly entertainer and chef whose affable nature made him a popular character actor for decades with movie and TV audiences as well as directors and fellow actors, has died. He was 75.

Agent Robert Malcolm said DeLuise died about 6 p.m. Monday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. Malcolm said the family did not release the cause of death.

“He had high blood pressure, he had diabetes, he had lots of things,” but seemed fine as recently as two weeks ago, he said.

DeLuise entered the hospital on Friday and his wife and all three sons were there when he died “peacefully,” Malcolm said.

A family statement said, “It’s easy to mourn to his death but easier to remember a time when he made you laugh.”

The actor, who loved to cook and eat almost as much as he enjoyed acting, also carved out a formidable second career later in life as a chef of fine cuisine. He authored two cookbooks and would appear often on morning TV shows to whip up his favorite recipes.

As an actor, he was incredibly prolific, appearing in scores of movies and TV shows, in Broadway plays and voicing characters for numerous cartoon shows.

Writer-director-actor Mel Brooks particularly admired DeLuise’s talent for offbeat comedy and cast him in several films, including “The Twelve Chairs,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Silent Movie,” “History of the World Part I” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” DeLuise was also the voice of Pizza the Hutt in Brooks’ “Star Wars” parody, “Spaceballs.”

The actor also frequently appeared opposite his friend Burt Reynolds in films such as “The End,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Smokey and the Bandit II,” “The Cannonball Run” and “Cannonball Run II.” Reynolds fondly recalled DeLuise in a statement issued by his publicist.

“I was thinking about this the other day,” Reynolds said. “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.”