Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds are among those who have paid tribute to actor and comedian Dom DeLuise, who has died in Los Angeles at the age of 75.Brooks, who directed DeLuise in several films, called him "a big man in every way". "He was big in size and created big laughter and joy," he said.
Reynolds, a friend and regular co-star, said he "always made you feel better. There will never be another like him." Carol Burnett, meanwhile, remembered him as "a very special human being".
According to his family, DeLuise died in his sleep at a Santa Monica hospital on Monday following a long illness.He had appeared in scores of films, TV shows and Broadway plays and provided voices for numerous cartoon characters.
DeLuise is best known for his roles in such Mel Brooks comedies as Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie and History of the World: Part I. He also made frequent appearances alongside Reynolds in films like The End, The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit II. In later life he became known for his cooking, authoring two cook books and demonstrating recipes on television. He is survived by his wife, Carol Arthur, and his three actor sons, Peter, Michael and David.
"He was born funny," said DeLuise's agent, Robert Malcolm. "He knew how to charm you and how to make you feel comfortable." His words were echoed by Doris Day, with whom DeLuise worked on 1966 film The Glass Bottom Boat. "I loved him from the moment we met," said the veteran actress, now 87. "Not only did we have the greatest time working together, but I never laughed so hard in my life."
Born in New York City in 1933, Dominick DeLuise got his first taste of acting aged eight when he played the title role of Peter Rabbit in a school play. He went on to graduate from Manhattan's famed School of Performing Arts, though in the years that followed work was hard to come by.
He met actress Carol Arthur while working in summer stock in Provincetown, Massachusetts, marrying her soon afterwards.
DeLuise went on to win fame on The Dean Martin Show as "Dominick the Great", a magician whose act routinely went wrong. The actor's passion for food saw him battle obesity, his weight reaching 325 lb (147 kg) at one point. His family has not disclosed the cause of his death. Last year, however, he revealed he had been fighting prostate cancer. "I'm still here," he told TV show Entertainment Tonight in December. "I'm 75 and here. I feel very blessed."
Memorial services will be private, according to the actor's official website.