Italian-American actor/director/producer Danny DeVito has built a sold career both in front of and behind the camera with more than 50 movies. One of Hollywood’s most successful character actors, DeVito gained recognition and became famous playing tyrannical dispatcher Louie De Palma on the popular series Taxi (1978). Due to his brilliant acting, he was presented with a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award.
On the silver screen, DeVito initially attracted some attention when he recreated his stage role of the stirring and wretched Martini in the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), for director Milos Forman. He later continued with notable roles in such features as the huge hit Romancing the Stone (1984) and its continuation Jewel of the Nile, Ruthless People (1986), Throw Momma From the Train (1987, also directed), Twins (1988, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger), The War of the Roses (1989), the blockbuster Batman Returns (1992), Hoffa (1992, also produced and directed), Junior (1994), L.A. Confidential (1997) and The Big Kahuna (1999). In 1996, DeVito won an Oulu International Children's Film Festival Award and a Cinekid Award for his outstanding performance in the unsuccessful Matilda.
His more recent film credits include Drowning Mona (2000, with Bette Midler), Screwed (2000), What's the Worst that Could Happen (2001), Death to Smoochy (2002), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Anything Else (2003), Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003), Family of the Year (2004), Christmas in Love (2004) and the animated Catching Kringle (2004). Recently appearing in Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2005) and Be Cool (2005), DeVito is set to play roles in the forth coming The OH in Ohio (2005), the independent movie Relative Strangers (2006, alongside Kathy Bates and Ron Livingston), Even Money (2005), Nobel Son (2006), The Good Night (2006) and Bart Got a Room (2006).
In addition to acting, DeVito has become a foremost film and television producer. Co-founder of Jersey Films, DeVito has produced many movies like Pulp Fiction (1995), Reality Bites (1994), 8 Seconds (1994), Get Shorty (1995), Feeling Minnesota (1996), Gattaca (1997), Out of Sight (1998), Living Out Loud (1998), Man on the Moon (1999), Soderberg’s Erin Brockovich (2000, earned Julia Roberts an Oscar), Kasi Lemmon’s The Caveman’s Valentine (2001), the Ben Stiller-Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy Along Came Polly (2004) and Garden State (2004), among others. He will also produce the forthcoming The Children of the Dust Bowl (2005), A Walk Among the Tombstones (2006), Freedom Writers (2006) and Bart Got a Room (2006).
Outside the spotlight, DeVito spends a lot of his time with his wife of 24 years, Rhea Perlman, whom he finally wed in 1981 after 11 years of living together, and his three lovely children, daughters Lucy Chet DeVito (born in 1983) and Grace Fan DeVito (born in 1985), and son Jake Daniel DeVito (born on October 1987).
Childhood and Family:
Son of Daniel DeVito Sr. and Julia DeVito, Danny Michael DeVito was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey. Being raised by Italian American Catholic parents, Danny was sent to Catholic schools during his youth. After graduating from the Oratory Prep School in 1962, he made a decision to take a job as a cosmetician at his sister’s beauty shop. A year later, with the aim of acquiring additional makeup expertise, Danny, who worked under the name “Mr. Danny,” attended New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not long after studying at the collage, Mr. Danny realized that acting was his true calling.
While working in New York in the year 1970, David met and fell in love with actress Rhea Perlman. Shortly thereafter, Perlman moved into an apartment with David, in which he also shared with fellow actor Michael Douglas. The couple eventually married in 1981 and welcomed their first daughter, Lucy Chet DeVito, two years later. David and Perlman also became the parents of a daughter named Grace Fan DeVito (born on March 1985) and a son named Jake Daniel DeVito (born on October 1987).
18-year-old Danny DeVito started a career as a hairdresser before finding a knack for acting when he was a college student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He got his first taste in front of the camera as a thug in the drama Dreams of Glass (1968), but quickly made up his mind to focus on theater following some disappointing experiences with the cinematic industry. A year later, DeVito debuted on Broadway by starring in one of the three one-act plays in “The Man With the Flower in His Mouth,” and next appeared in such Off-Broadway productions as “The Shrinking Bride” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” After getting his feet wet with several stage works, he made his way back to film in 1972 with a supporting role in the Italian-French production Lady Liberty, starring Sophia Loren.
In 1975, with six movies in his pocket, DeVito’s breakthrough film finally arrived when he reprised his stage role of the touching and pathetic Martini in director Milos Forman’s big-screen adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Produced by DeVito's old friend Michael Douglas, the film, which starred Jack Nicholson, received wide acclaim and won five Academy Awards, as well as earned four more Oscar nominations. A year later, DeVito made his debut as a director for the made-for-TV movie Selling of Vince D'Angelo (1976).
Despite the film’s huge victory, DeVito’s screen career remained dreary. However, his career gained real momentum three years later when DeVito was hired to play dispatcher Louie De Palma in the acclaimed TV sitcom “Taxi” (1978). His performance was so brilliant that the actor was handed a 1979 Golden Globe and a 1981 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor. He also received several more nominations at the Golden Globes (1981, 1982) and Emmys (1979 and 1982).
During the 1980s, DeVito created several impressive performances in movies such as the highly successful action adventure Romancing the Stone (1984, co-starred with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) and its continuation Jewel of the Nile. He was next seen in Ruthless People (1986, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor), Throw Momma From the Train (1987, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at Golden Globe), the silly comedy Twins (1988, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger), and The War of the Roses (1989, reunited with Douglas and Turner). Aside from his notable performances in front of the camera, DeVito also actively served as a director in a number of projects. After helming some episodes of the television series “Amazing Stories” and “Mary” (both in 1995) and the TV film The Ratings Game (1984), he made a feature directorial debut with Throw Momma from the Train (1987) and later directed The War of the Roses (1989). DeVito was honored with a NATO for Special Award of Merit (1985) and Star of the Year (1989), and a ShoWest for Male Star of the Year due to his outstanding contribution to the film industry.
In 1992, DeVito was so good as the villain The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot in Tim Burton’s highly successful Batman Returns (1992) that he earned a nomination for Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards. Fighting against the typecast of a conventional, light-comedy actor, DeVito made it big when he gave a highly respected performance as Bobby Ciaro in Hoffa (1992), which starred Jack Nicholson as the title character. He also directed and produced the film. He next was seen in the less successful Jack the Bear (1993) and Renaissance Man (1994) before trying for another hit with director Ivan Reitman’s comedy Junior (1994, worked again with Schwarzenegger).
DeVito produced and starred in Get Shorty (1995), was featured in Felony (1996) and once again turned heads for his bright work in the screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda (1996, also produced and directed), for which he nabbed Oulu International Children's Film Festival and Cinekid awards. Unfortunately, the film was a failure at the box office.
The following year, DeVito landed a high profile role as dodgy tabloid journalist Sid Hudgens in L.A. Confidential (1997) and received positive response, as well as a Screen Actors Guild nomination, for his fine acting. He played paralegal Deck Shifflet in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed adaptation of John Grisham’s The Rainmaker (1997), Pat Francato in Living Out Loud (1998) and Dr. Horniker in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999), before gaining notice for playing sympathetic salesman Phil Cooper in The Big Kahuna (1999). In Milos Forman’s biopic Man on the Moon (1999), a film about the extraordinary life of Andy Kaufman, DeVito played the role of George Shapiro, as well as served as the film’s producer.
Entering the new millennium, DeVito’s star becoming somewhat clouded as he struggled with a string of big screen disasters such as Drowning Mona (2000, with Bette Midler), Screwed (2000) and What's the Worst that Could Happen (2001). In 2000, he was known as a producer for the box office smash hit Erin Brockovich, a film that brought actress Julia Roberts an Oscar.
Returning to the director’s chair after a many-year hiatus, he helmed Death to Smoochy (2002), a comedy starring Robin Williams and Edward Norton.
Back in front of the camera, DeVito appeared in the box office hit Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), made a nice comedic turn in the lesser-grade Woody Allen film Anything Else (2003) and played the supporting role of Amos Calloway in Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003). Also in 2003, DeVito cast Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore to play roles in his broad comedy missfire Duplex (2003). He next appeared in Family of the Year (2004) and Christmas in Love (2004), provided his voice for General Needham in the animated Catching Kringle (2004), played Booth in Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2005) and rejoined Travolta to reprise the role of actor Martin Weir for Be Cool (2005), a sequel to Get Shorty. DeVito will soon play roles in The OH in Ohio (2005) and the independent movie Relative Strangers (2006, alongside Kathy Bates and Ron Livingston). He also has four more silver screen projects still in production, including Even Money (2005), Nobel Son (2006), The Good Night (2006) and Bart Got a Room (2006). He will also produce such films as The Children of the Dust Bowl (2005), A Walk Among the Tombstones (2006), Freedom Writers (2006) and Bart Got a Room (2006).
- Oulu International Children's Film Festival: Starboy Award, Matilda, 1997
- Cinekid: Audience Award, Matilda, 1996)
- ShoWest: Male Star of the Year, 1989
- NATO: Star of the Year, 1989
- NATO: Special Award of Merit, 1985
- Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series or Variety or Music Series, Taxi, 1981
- Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Taxi, 1979