Danny DeVito is one of the entertainment industry’s most versatile players, excelling as actor, producer and director.
The award-winning performance as Louie De Palma on the television show “Taxi” was what propelled DeVito to national prominence. He won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. In a 1999 readers’ poll conducted by TV Guide, DeVito’s Louie De Palma was voted number one among “TV’s Fifty Greatest Character’s Ever.”
In 2012, DeVito and Richard Griffiths received rave reviews in the London stage revival of Neil Simon’s comedy “The Sunshine Boys.” The following year, DeVito reprised his critically acclaimed role together with former “Taxi” co-star Judd Hirsch in Los Angeles.
DeVito returns as Frank Reynolds in FXX’s acclaimed cult comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” about to begin filming its’ twelfth season.
He can be seen in the Todd Solondz’ comedy “Wiener-Dog” for Amazon Studios and will next be seen in Ascot Elite Entertainment’s “The Comedian.” DeVito is in post-production for thriller “St. Sebastian” which he produced and directed.
Most recently, DeVito’s short film “Curmudgeons” was seen at the Tribeca Film Festival. He also recently produced of Universal Pictures’ crime drama “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” In 2014, he starred in “All The Wilderness.” 2012 saw DeVito star in Sebastian Gutierrez’s black and white crime drama, “Hotel Noir.”
He will next be heard voicing Chesterfield in the animated film “Animal Crackers.” In 2012, DeVito voiced the Lorax in Universal Pictures’ animated feature “The Lorax,” based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. His voice was also heard in the German, Russian, Spanish and Italian versions of the film.
DeVito runs TheBloodFactory.com, an online collaboration with screenwriter John Albo of horror shorts he affectionately refers to “splatter cuts.” He is also the principal of Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue, a successor company of Jersey Films. Jersey Films has produced over 20 motion pictures, including “Freedom Writers,” “Be Cool,” “Garden State,” “Along Came Polly,” “Man on the Moon,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Out of Sight,” “Get Shorty,” “Hoffa,” “Matilda,” “Living Out Loud” and “Erin Brockovich” (which was nominated for an Academy Award).
Apart from his work with Jersey Films, DeVito has starred in such films as “Junior,” “Batman Returns,” “Twins,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Jewel of the Nile,” “Ruthless People,” “Tin Men,” “Anything Else,” “Big Fish,” “Renaissance Man,” “The Big Kahuna” and “Heist.” He starred more recently in “The Good Night,” “Deck The Halls,” “Relative Strangers,” “The OH in Ohio,” “Be Cool,” “Nobel Son” and “Even Money.”
DeVito attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grammar school and Oratory Prep School in Summit, N.J., but appeared in only one school play, as St. Francis of Assisi. After graduation, he pursued several odd jobs, always with the idea of acting in the back of his mind. He finally entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. “They had fencing and a speech class,” he said mockingly, “So you don’t talk funny.” Unable to get work, Danny bought a round-trip ticket and headed to Hollywood. After years of unemployment, he returned to New York. He called an old friend and former American Academy professor who, coincidentally, had been seeking him out for a starring role in one of three one-act plays presented together under the title of “The Man With the Flower in His Mouth.” Soon Danny was into big money ($60 a week), and other stage performances followed. Among his credits were “Down the Morning Line,” “The Line of Least Existence,” “The Shrinking Bride” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
In 1975, under a grant from the American Film Institute, Danny and his wife, actress Rhea Perlman, wrote and produced “Minestrone,” which has been shown twice at the Cannes Film Festival and has been translated into five languages. Later they wrote and produced a 16-millimeter black-and-white short subject, “The Sound Sleeper,” which won first prize at the Brooklyn Arts and Cultural Association competition.
DeVito carries his success well. Never forgetting that there were more difficult times, he maintains a healthy sense of perspective. As “Taxi” character Louie DePalma, would say, “If you don’t do good today, you’ll be eatin’ dirt tomorrow.”