Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito

DeVito in 2013
Born Daniel Michael DeVito, Jr.
(1944-11-17) November 17, 1944
Neptune Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, director, producer
Years active 1970–present
Height 4'10" (1.47 m)[1]
Spouse(s) Rhea Perlman (m. 1982)
Children 3; including Lucy DeVito

Daniel Michael "Danny" DeVito, Jr. (born November 17, 1944) is an American actor, comedian, director and producer. He gained prominence for his portrayal of the taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in Taxi (1978–1983) which won him a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

A major film star, he is known for his roles in Tin Men, Throw Momma from the Train, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ruthless People, Man on the Moon, Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, Twins, Batman Returns, Other People's Money, Get Shorty and L.A. Confidential and for his voiceover in such films as Space Jam, Hercules and The Lorax.

DeVito and Michael Shamberg founded Jersey Films. Soon afterwards, Stacey Sher became an equal partner. The production company is known for films such as Pulp Fiction, Garden State, and Freedom Writers. DeVito also owns Jersey Television, which produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911!. DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman starred together in his 1996 film Matilda, based on Roald Dahl's children's novel. DeVito was also one of the producers nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for Erin Brockovich.

He currently stars as Frank Reynolds on the FXX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He directs, produces and appears in graphic, short, horror films for his Internet venture The Blood Factory.[2]

DeVito's short stature is the result of multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (Fairbank's disease), a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth in those afflicted.[3][4]

Early life

DeVito was born in Neptune Township, New Jersey, the son of Daniel DeVito, Sr. (1901-1982), a small business owner, and Julia DeVito (née Moccello; 1904-1990).[5][6] He grew up in a family of five, with his parents and two older sisters.[7] He is of Italian descent; his family is originally from San Fele.[8] He was raised in Asbury Park, New Jersey.[9]

DeVito was raised as a Catholic, and attended Oratory Preparatory School, a boarding school in Summit, New Jersey, graduating in 1962. He went to the boarding school when he was 14, after he persuaded his father to send him there to keep him out of trouble.[7] After leaving the boarding school, he trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which he graduated in 1966. In his early theater days, he performed with the Colonnades Theater Lab, at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, and, along with his future wife, Rhea Perlman, appeared in plays produced by the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective.


Film acting

DeVito at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010

DeVito played Martini in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, reprising his role from the 1971 off-Broadway play of the same name. He gained fame in 1978 playing Louie De Palma, the short but domineering dispatcher for the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, on the hit TV show Taxi. After Taxi ended, DeVito began a successful film career, starting with roles in 1983's Terms of Endearment, as the comic rogue in the romantic adventure Romancing the Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and its 1985 sequel, The Jewel of the Nile. In 1986, DeVito starred in Ruthless People with Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold, and in 1987, he made his feature-directing debut with the dark comedy Throw Momma from the Train, in which he starred with Billy Crystal and Anne Ramsey. Two years later, DeVito reunited with Douglas and Turner in The War of the Roses, which he directed and in which he co-starred.

DeVito's work during this time includes Other People's Money with Gregory Peck, director Barry Levinson's Tin Men as a competitive rival salesman to Richard Dreyfuss' character, two co-starring vehicles with Arnold Schwarzenegger (the comedies Twins and Junior), and playing The Penguin as a deformed sociopath in director Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992).

Although generally a comic actor, DeVito expanded into dramatic roles with The Rainmaker (1997), Hoffa (1992), which he directed and in which he co-starred with Jack Nicholson, Jack the Bear (1993), L.A. Confidential, The Big Kahuna, and Heist (2001), as a gangster nemesis of Joe Moore (Gene Hackman).

DeVito has an interest in documentaries: In 2006, he began a partnership with Morgan Freeman's company ClickStar, on which he hosts a documentary channel called Jersey Docs. He was also interviewed in the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car, about his interest in and ownership of electric vehicles.


In April 2012, DeVito made his West End acting debut in a revival of the Neil Simon play The Sunshine Boys as Willie Clark - alongside Richard Griffiths.[10] The play previewed at the Savoy Theatre in London from 27 April 2012, opened on 17 May and played a limited 12-week season until 28 July.[11]


DeVito has become a major film and television producer. Through Jersey Films, he has produced many films, including Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Erin Brockovich (for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture), Gattaca, and Garden State. In 1999, DeVito produced and co-starred in Man on the Moon, a film about the unusual life of his former Taxi co-star, Andy Kaufman, who was played in the film by Jim Carrey. DeVito also produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, as well as the film spin off Reno 911!: Miami.


DeVito made his directorial debut in 1984 with The Ratings Game. He then directed and also starred in Throw Momma from the Train (1987),[12] The War of the Roses (1989), Hoffa (1992), Matilda (1996), Death to Smoochy (2002) and Duplex (2003). The War of the Roses was a commercial and critical success, as was the film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda. However, Death to Smoochy and Duplex both had mixed reviews.[13] He also directed the film Queen B in 2005.[14]

Television and voice-over work

DeVito with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast mates Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney at the ceremony for DeVito on August 18, 2011

In 1977, DeVito played the role of John 'John John the Apple' DeAppoliso in the Starsky and Hutch episode titled "The Collector".[10] In 1986, DeVito directed and starred in an episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. In the black comedy episode from season two, titled "The Wedding Ring", DeVito acquires an engagement ring for his wife (played by his real-life wife, actress Rhea Perlman). When the ring is slipped on his wife's finger, she becomes possessed by the ring's former owner, a murderous black widow.

In 1986, DeVito voiced the Grundle King in My Little Pony: The Movie while his wife, Rhea Perlman, voiced Reeka the witch. In 1990, DeVito and Perlman played a couple (Vic & Paula) commenting on the state of the environment in The Earth Day Special. In 1991 and 1992, DeVito voiced Herb Powell in the episodes "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" and "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" of The Simpsons.[15][16] In 1996, he provided the voice of Mr. Swackhammer in Space Jam. In 1997, he was the voice of Philoctetes in the film Hercules.

In 1999, DeVito hosted the last Saturday Night Live episode before the year 2000. He earned a 2004 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for an episode of Friends,[17] following four Emmy nominations (including a 1981 win) for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Taxi. In 2006, DeVito joined the cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Frank Reynolds.

In 2011, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television.[18] In 2012, DeVito voiced the Lorax in The Lorax. In 2013, along with Rashida Jones, he voiced Herb for the third time on "The Changing of the Guardian" episode of The Simpsons (aired on January 27, 2013. season 24, episode 11). He appeared in the Angry Birds Friends Champions for Earth tournament advertisement in September 2015. Following the Japanese release of the 3DS game Detective Pikachu, dedicated fans started a petition requesting Devito as the English voice actor for the titular character. The petition gained 40,000 signatures but he declined to audition for the role.[19][20]

Appearances in other media

DeVito played a fictional version of himself in the music video for One Direction's song "Steal My Girl".[21][22] He also appeared in the short film Curmudgeons[23] which he has also produced and directed.

Personal life

DeVito with Rhea Perlman

On January 17, 1971, DeVito met Rhea Perlman when she went to see a friend in the single performance of the play The Shrinking Bride, which also featured DeVito.[24] They moved in together two weeks after meeting.[25] The couple married on January 28, 1982.[26] They have three children: Lucy Chet DeVito (born March 11, 1983), Grace Fan DeVito (born March 1985), and Jacob Daniel DeVito (born October 1987).[27]

Throughout their relationship, Perlman and DeVito have acted alongside each other several times, including in the television show Taxi and the feature film Matilda (in which they played Matilda's parents).[27] While DeVito and Perlman separated in October 2012 after 30 years of marriage and over 40 years together,[27] the couple reconciled in March 2013.[28]

DeVito and Perlman resided in a 14,579 square foot Beverly Hills, California mansion they purchased in 1994, until selling the estate for US$24 million in April 2015. The couple also own a bungalow near Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and a multi residence compound on Broad Beach in Malibu.[29][30]

He and Perlman are members of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo, supporting a theater in Oberlin, Ohio, as is filmmaker Jonathan Demme.[31] DeVito co-owned a restaurant called DeVito South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, which closed in 2011.[32]


Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Result
1978-1983 Taxi For Supporting Actor: Emmy Award: 1981; Golden Globe Award: 1980 (tied with Vic Tayback of Alice); Emmy Nominations: 1979, 1982, 1983; Golden Globe Nominations: 1979, 1981, 1982 Won
1981 Going Ape! Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
1986 Ruthless People Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nominated
1987 Throw Momma from the Train Nominated
1989 The War of the Roses Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear[33] Nominated
1992 Batman Returns Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor Nominated
MTV Movie Award for Best Villain Nominated
Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
Hoffa Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear[34] Nominated
Razzie Award for Worst Director Nominated
1995 Get Shorty Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
1996 Matilda Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Nominated
1997 The Rainmaker Nominated
L.A. Confidential Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2000 Erin Brockovich Academy Award for Best Picture Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Film Nominated
2004 Friends Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2006 Deck the Halls Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
2008 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated


  1. Mondello, Bob (December 7, 2012). "Hollywood Heights: The Ups, Downs And In-Betweens". NPR.
  2. Exclusive: Danny DeVito Talks The Blood Factory and More
  3. Jenkins, Mark (26 September 2013). "For Richer And For Poorer, But What Of That Vanishing Middle?". NPR. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  4. Joseph, Pat. "Lights, Camera, Economics Robert Reich brings his message to the big screen.". Berkeley. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  5. "Biography - Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  6. "Danny DeVito Biography (1944-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  7. 1 2 Barbara Ellen (14 April 2012). "Danny DeVito: 'It all worked out for me. Life is good'". The Guardian.
  8. Dani Shapiro (29 June 2010). "My favorite place: Danny DeVito". CNN. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  9. Shaw, David."DeVito! Although He Has a Penchant for Dark Comedies, Actor-Director Danny DeVito Is Serious About His Craft, His Family and His Cigars", Cigar Aficionado profile, accessed May 2, 2007. "Danny DeVito was born in 1944 in the shore town of Neptune, New Jersey—hence the name of his production company—and raised in neighboring Asbury Park, the youngest of five children (two of whom died before he was born)."
  10. 1 2 Raab, Scott (31 January 2014). "The Serene Beauty of the Five-Foot Fury of Asbury Park". Esquire.
  11. "The Sunshine Boys - Reviews". What's On Stage. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  12. Maslin, Janet (1987-12-01). "Throw Momma from the Train". The New York Times.
  13. "Danny DeVito Movie Box Office Results". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  14. Schneider, Michael (9 March 2005). "DeVito king of 'Queen B'". Variety. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  15. "Danny DeVito lends his voice to 'The Simpsons'". Observer-Reporter. 11 February 1991. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  16. ""The Simpsons" guests stars over the years". CBS. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  17. "Danny DeVito". Emmy Award.
  18. "Danny DeVito gets star on Hollywood Walk". KTAR.com. Bonneville International. Associated Press. August 18, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  19. "Pokémon Fans Petitioning to Make Danny DeVito the Voice of Pikachu (He'd Be Perfect)". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
  20. "Paley Center on Twitter: "Audience Q:Will Danny DeVito voice the Detective Pikachu videogame? Danny says "No" and asks what it is, "What the F is Pokemon?" #PaleyLive". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  21. "One Direction's 'Steal My Girl' Video Features Danny DeVito... What!?". MTV News. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  22. "One Direction's New 'Steal My Girl' Video Will Feature Danny DeVito". Billboard.com. 11 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  23. "Curmudgeons". Curmudgeons.
  24. Lovece, Frank; with Franco, Jules (1988). Hailing Taxi: The Official Book of the Show. New York: Simon & Schuster / Prentice Hall Press. pp. 53, 286. ISBN 978-0-13-372103-4.
  25. Lovece, pp. 53, 80
  26. Wallace, Carol (December 12, 1983). "Chalk Up a Successful Marriage for TV's Tart-Tongued Twosome, Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman". People. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  27. 1 2 3 "Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Separate". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  28. Leonard, Elizabeth (March 15, 2013). "Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Are Back Together". People. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  29. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Quietly List BevHills Estate Variety, April 21, 2015
  30. Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman sell estate in Beverly Hills Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2015
  31. "Friends of the Apollo". Oberlin College. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  32. "DeVito South Beach". Ocean Drive Miami Beach. 20 October 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  33. "Berlinale: 1990 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  34. "Berlinale: 1993 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-05-31.

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