Comedian and actor Dom DeLuise has passed away at the age of 75, his son Michael DeLuise confirmed to KTLA-TV and radio station KNX on Tuesday (May 5). The comedian died in his sleep after a long illness.
Throughout the 1960s, DeLuise appeared in various television programs, including a variety show with Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart, and spent many years on "The Dean Martin Show." In 1968, his own program, "The Dom DeLuise Show," debuted on CBS. In the early '90s, DeLuise hosted "Candid Camera."
DeLuise's first notable film role was in Oscar-winning director Sidney Lumet's 1964 movie, "Fail-Safe." But DeLuise's film career took off with the help of Mel Brooks, who cast him in "The Twelve Chairs," "Blazing Saddles" and "History of the World: Part I"; in the latter, he had a memorable and hilarious turn as the lascivious, wine-guzzling Emperor Nero. He appeared with Gene Wilder in "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" and "The World's Greatest Lover."
DeLuise was a frequent co-star of Burt Reynolds, appearing in films like "The End," "Smokey and the Bandit II" and "The Cannonball Run." He also supplied his vocal talents to animated films such as "An American Tail" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." DeLuise made his directorial debut in 1979 with "Hot Stuff."
Reynolds released a statement to "ET" on Tuesday morning (May 5). "I was thinking the other day about this. As you get older you think about this more and more, I was dreading this moment. Dom always made everyone feel better when he was around. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much," Reynolds said in the statement.
Aside from film and TV, DeLuise is known for his work in the kitchen and has published several cookbooks, including "Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better!" As an author, he's also published numerous children's books.
Dominick DeLuise was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. He attended the School of Performing Arts in Manhattan and Tufts University.
He was married to comedian/actress Carol Arthur. They have three sons, Peter, Michael and David.
[This story was originally published at 12:13 p.m. ET on 05.05.2009]