It saddens me deeply today to report that the truly gifted funnyman Dom Deluise has died at the age of 75, according to TMZ.
Yeah, I know this has little do with horror. OK, the guy was in Haunted Honeymoon, and his last movie will be Horrorween, due out in October--how's that? Besides, in the words of my illustrious colleague BJ-C--my blog, my rules.
This one gets to me because I have a personal connection with the man. Growing up on 67th Street and 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, we lived literally around the corner from Mr. Deluise's mother, Vincenza.
I can still remember as clear as day the time I first met him. He was visiting his mom, and I had to be only about six or so. There he was, sprawled out on a lawn chair on the front stoop in classic Brooklyn fashion, his trademark smile and beret in full effect. My mom and I stopped to say hi, and he was pleased to talk to us. He was also more than happy to sign an autograph when my mom asked for one.
"Mommy," I asked innocently, "Why do we want him to sign that paper for us? What's that for?"
My mom chuckled nervously, and Mr. Deluise stopped in mid-autograph and broke into a deep, heartfelt belly laugh.
"Humor me, kid," he said. "I like to write!"
Coincidentally, it also happened that Mr. Deluise was a close friend of my great uncle's long-time ladyfriend--in fact, the two had started out in show business together in the 1950s. Although she too has long since passed, I'll never forget the anecdote she once told over a lively Italian-American Christmas dinner. She recalled to all of us the time she was getting ready for a show backstage with him, watching him shave in the mirror.
"You know something," he said to her, dead serious as he passed the razor across his face. "I'm gonna be a really big star some day."
On behalf of millions, Mr. Deluise, let me say that we are grateful your dream came true. Rest in peace.