Daniel Michael DeVito Jr.
November 17, 1944
Neptune, New Jersey, U.S.
|Height||4 ft 10 in (147 cm)|
(m. 1982; sep. 2017)
|Children||3, including Lucy|
Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. (born November 17, 1944) is an American actor, comedian, and filmmaker. He gained prominence for his portrayal of the taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in the television series Taxi (1978–1983), which won him a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award. He plays Frank Reynolds on the FX and FXX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2006–present).
He is known for his film roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984), Throw Momma from the Train (1987), Twins (1988), The War of the Roses (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Jack the Bear (1993), Junior (1994), Get Shorty (1995), Matilda (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Big Kahuna (1999), Big Fish (2003), Deck the Halls (2006), When in Rome (2010), Wiener-Dog (2016), and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). He has voiced roles in such films as Hercules (1997), The Lorax (2012), and Smallfoot (2018).
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 (1994), Garden State (2004), and Freedom Writers (2007). DeVito also owned 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 (2000).
From 2012 to 2013 he played Willie Clark in the West End revival of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. He made his Broadway debut as Gregory Solomon in the revival of Arthur Miller's The Price (2017), earning a Tony Award nomination for his performance. He returned to Broadway in the Theresa Rebeck play I Need That (2023).
Early life and education
DeVito was born at Raleigh Fitkin-Paul Morgan Memorial Hospital in Neptune Township, New Jersey, the son of Daniel DeVito Sr., a small business owner, and Julia DeVito (née Moccello). He grew up in a family of five, with his parents and two older sisters. He is of Italo-Albanian descent; his family is originally from San Fele, Basilicata, as well as from the Arbëresh Albanian community of Calabria. He was raised in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He lived a few miles away from the original Jersey Mike's location and would eat there frequently, which would inspire him to become the sub shop's first celebrity spokesman in a line of commercials that began to air in September 2022.
DeVito was raised as a Catholic. When he was 14, he persuaded his father to send him to boarding school to "keep him out of trouble", and graduated from Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, New Jersey, in 1962. While working as a beautician at his sister's salon, his search for a professional makeup instructor led him to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where 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. Along with his future wife Rhea Perlman, he appeared in plays produced by the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective.
1969–1977: Early roles and rise to prominence
DeVito started his career acting off-Broadway in the plays Shoot Anything With Hair That Moves and The Man with the Flower in His Mouth both in 1969. DeVito played Martini in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest directed by Milos Forman, reprising his role from the 1971 off-Broadway play of the same title. He had his feature film debut in the drama Dreams of Glass (1970). Early film roles include Lady Liberty (1971), Hurry Up, or I'll Be 30 (1973), and Deadly Hero (1975).
In 1977, DeVito played the role of John "John John the Apple" DeAppoliso in the Starsky & Hutch episode "The Collector". DeVito 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. For his performance he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
1978–1994: Breakthrough with Taxi and film roles
After his time on the Taxi series ended, DeVito devoted more effort to a growing successful film career. DeVito made his directorial debut in 1984 with The Ratings Game. In 1986, he directed and starred in the black comedy "The Wedding Ring", a season 2 episode of Steven Spielberg's anthology series Amazing Stories, where his character acquires an engagement ring for his wife (played by DeVito's real-life wife, actress Rhea Perlman). When the ring is slipped on his wife's finger, she is possessed by the ring's former owner, a murderous black widow. That year, DeVito also voiced the Grundle King in My Little Pony: The Movie. He took a supporting role as Vernon Dalhart in the James L. Brooks directed comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983) acting alongside Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. The film earned critical acclaim as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The following year he acted in the crime comedy Johnny Dangerously (1984) and took the role as the comic rogue Ralph in the romantic adventure Romancing the Stone (1984), starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner; and its sequel, The Jewel of the Nile (1985). 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. For his performance he earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy nomination. Also in 1987 he acted in director Barry Levinson's Tin Men (1987) , as a rival salesman to Richard Dreyfuss' character. He reunited with Douglas and Turner two years later in The War of the Roses (1989), which he directed and in which he co-starred. The film received critical acclaim.
In 1990, he and Rhea Perlman played the couple Vic & Paula, commenting on the state of the environment in The Earth Day Special. The following year he acted in Other People's Money (1991) with Gregory Peck. In 1991 and 1992, DeVito voiced Herb Powell in The Simpsons episodes "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" and "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?". In 1992 he portrayed the villain Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin in director Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992) acting opposite Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. That same year he directed and produced the biographical drama film Hoffa (1992) starring Jack Nicholson. He also acted in the film portraying Bobby Ciaro. DeVito also acted opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the comedies Twins (1988) and Junior (1994).
1995–2005: Established actor
In 1995, DeVito appeared in the gangster comedy Get Shorty. In 1996 he directed Matilda (1996), a film adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1988 classic children's novel of the same name. Critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "There is never a moment (except toward the happy ending) that we sense DeVito is anything other than quite serious about this material. He goes with Dahl’s macabre vision." He also served as the Narrator and played the villainous used-car dealer father Harry Wormwood opposite his wife Rhea Perlman. That same year he took supporting roles as Swackhammer in the Looney Tunes live-action / animated sports comedy Space Jam and reunited with Tim Burton's science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, and Natalie Portman.
In 1997, he played Deck Shifflet in the legal thriller The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon and Claire Danes as well Sid Hudgens, editor of a sleazy tabloid called Hush-Hush, who gets tips ahead of time of celebrity arrests in the neo-noir thriller L.A. Confidential with Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey, the later of which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. That same year he also voiced Phil in the Walt Disney Animated film Hercules (1997). Leonard Klady of Variety praised the voice performances writing, "As in Aladdin, the melding of character animation with the screen personae of the actors voicing the roles provides forceful and amusing entertainment, particularly in DeVito’s turn as a physical trainer and the acid wit James Woods brings to his villainous role."
He starred in Living Out Loud (1988) alongside Helen Hunt and Queen Latifah, reunited with Kevin Spacey in The Big Kahuna (1999), and hosted the last Saturday Night Live episode before the year 2000. In 1999, he produced and co-starred in the biographical drama film Man on the Moon, a film about the unusual life of his former Taxi co-star Andy Kaufman, played in the film by Jim Carrey. He also played Dr. Hornicker in the Sofia Coppola directed The Virgin Suicides (1999) starring Kirsten Dunst. He continued to take roles in comedy films such as Drowning Mona (2000), Screwed (2000), What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001), Death to Smoochy (2002), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Anything Else (2003), Duplex (2003, as narrator and director), and Be Cool (2005). He also acted in the drama films Heist (2001) and Big Fish (2004).
DeVito also produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, the film spin-off Reno 911!: Miami, and the revival on Quibi. He earned a 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series nomination for his role of a stripper in the NBC sitcom Friends, He directed the movie Queen B (2005).
2006–present: Return to television and theatre
In 2006, he joined the cast of the FX / FXX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Frank Reynolds. DeVito stars opposite Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Charlie Day. The character of Frank Reynolds is introduced at the beginning of Season 2. He received a nomination for the Satellite Award for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Series. DeVito said of the show "I loved it. It was fucking outrageous just the way they are. I immediately said, ‘Yeah, this is an amazing show." Also in 2006 he starred opposite Matthew Broderick in the Christmas comedy film Deck the Halls.
DeVito has an interest in documentaries. In 2006 he began a partnership with Morgan Freeman's company ClickStar, for whom he hosts the documentary channel Jersey Docs. He was also interviewed in the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car, discussing his interest in and ownership of electric vehicles. DeVito has directed eight short films between 1973 and 2016, five of which were released across 2010 and 2011. These are The Sound Sleeper (1973), Minestrone (1975), Oh Those Lips (2010), Evil Eye (2010), Poison Tongue (2011), Skin Deep (2011), Nest of Vipers (2011) and Curmudgeons (2016). In 2011, DeVito received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television. In 2012, he voiced the title character in the animated version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. He appeared in the Angry Birds Friends "Champions for Earth" tournament advertisement in September 2015. Following the Japanese release of the Nintendo 3DS game Detective Pikachu, dedicated Pokémon fans submitted a 40,000-signature petition requesting that DeVito be the English voice actor for the title character. However, he declined to audition for the role, commenting that he was unfamiliar with the franchise.
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. It previewed at the Savoy Theatre in London from April 27, 2012, opened on May 17, and played a limited 12-week season until July 28. DeVito played a fictional version of himself in the music video of One Direction's song "Steal My Girl" (2014). He also appeared in the short film Curmudgeons, which he also produced and directed. In 2013, he would voice Herb for a third time in the episode "The Changing of the Guardian". DeVito made his Broadway debut in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the Arthur Miller play The Price as Gregory Solomon. He acted opposite Mark Ruffalo, and Tony Shalhoub. Marilyn Stasio of Variety praised DeVito's performance writing, "DeVito, who holds the audience in the palm of his hand, tends to favor the comic side, making an extended meal out of an egg-eating visual gag. But he also draws on down-to-earth Jewish wisdom to keep family hostilities from boiling over and spoiling the financial negotiations". He went on to be nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. The production began preview performances at the American Airlines Theatre on February 16, 2017, and opened on March 16 for a limited run-through on May 7.
In 2018 he had a guest starring role in the Netflix comedy series The Kominsky Method acting opposite Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. He also voiced Dorgle in the Warner Bros. animated film Smallfoot (2018). The following year in 2019 he reunited with Tim Burton playing Max Medici in the live action Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Dumbo, a remake of the 1941 animated film. He acted alongside Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Eva Green. He also played Eddie Gilpin in the action comedy film Jumanji: The Next Level starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan. The film was a box office and critical success. In 2020 he voiced Bob, a stray dog in The One and Only Ivan. In 2021 he played Charlie Goldman the biographical HBO drama film The Survivor. That same year DeVito wrote a 12-page story centered on the Penguin and Catwoman for the anthology comic Gotham City Villains. In 2023 he acted in the Disney horror comedy Haunted Mansion, Chris Pine's directorial film debut Poolman, and the Illumination animated film Migration. Also in 2023 he returned to Broadway in the Theresa Rebeck play I Need That.
DeVito has become a major film and television producer. DeVito founded Jersey Films in 1991, producing films like Pulp Fiction (1994), Get Shorty (1995), Erin Brockovich (2000) (for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture), Gattaca (1997), and Garden State (2004).
DeVito stands 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 metres) tall. His short stature is the result of multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (Fairbank's disease), a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth.
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 featured DeVito. They moved in together two weeks later and married on January 28, 1982. They have three children: Lucy Chet DeVito (born March 11, 1983), Grace Fan DeVito (born March 1985), and Jacob Daniel DeVito (born October 1987).
Perlman and DeVito have acted alongside each other several times, including in the television show Taxi and the feature film Matilda (where they played Matilda's parents). They separated in October 2012, after 30 years of marriage and over 40 years together, then reconciled in March 2013. They separated for a second time in March 2017, but remained on amicable terms and Perlman stated they had no intent of filing for divorce. In 2019, Perlman told interviewer Andy Cohen that she and DeVito have become closer friends after their separation than they were in their final years as a couple.
DeVito and Perlman resided in a 14,579-square-foot (1,354 m2) house in Beverly Hills, California, that they purchased in 1994, until selling it for US$24 million in April 2015. They also own a bungalow near Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and a multi-residence compound on Broad Beach in Malibu. They also frequented a home they owned in Interlaken, New Jersey to get away from Los Angeles.
Acting credits and accolades
DeVito has an extensive film career, dating back to the mid-1970s.
- One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
- Taxi (1978–1983)
- Terms of Endearment (1983)
- Romancing the Stone (1984)
- The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
- Tin Men (1987)
- Throw Momma from the Train (1987)
- Twins (1988)
- The War of the Roses (1989)
- Batman Returns (1992)
- Hoffa (1992)
- Jack the Bear (1993)
- Reality Bites (1994)
- Junior (1994)
- Renaissance Man (1994)
- Get Shorty (1995)
- Sunset Park (1996)
- Matilda (1996)
- Space Jam (1996)
- Mars Attacks! (1996)
- The Rainmaker (1997)
- L.A. Confidential (1997)
- Hercules (1997)
- Gattaca (1997)
- Out of Sight (1998)
- Living Out Loud (1998)
- Man on the Moon (1999)
- The Virgin Suicides (1999)
- Drowning Mona (2000)
- Erin Brockovich (2000)
- How High (2001)
- Death to Smoochy (2002)
- Anything Else (2003)
- Big Fish (2003)
- Be Cool (2005)
- Deck the Halls (2006)
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2006–present)
- Solitary Man (2009)
- The Lorax (2012)
- Wiener-Dog (2016)
- Dumbo (2019)
- Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
- Mondello, Bob (December 7, 2012). "Hollywood Heights: The Ups, Downs And In-Betweens". NPR.
- Mikle, Jean. "Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito childhood homes: see where they grew up at the Shore". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
- "Biography - Yahoo! Movies". movies.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
- Ellen, Barbara (April 14, 2012). "Danny DeVito: 'It all worked out for me. Life is good'". The Guardian.
- Shapiro, Dani (June 29, 2010). "My favorite place: Danny DeVito". CNN. Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- "Daniel Michael DeVito of Arbëresh descent born on November 17". Oculus News. November 17, 2019. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
- "American actor Danny DeVito returns to his Albanian origins and shows how much he adored his grandmother's Georgian dialect". Vox News. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
- 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" Archived 2007-04-04 at the Wayback Machine, 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)."
- "Campaign Trail: Jersey Mike's Subs serves up authenticity with Danny DeVito". Marketing Dive.
- Danny DeVito on how beauty school led him to acting - EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG, archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved March 26, 2021
- Raab, Scott (January 31, 2014). "The Serene Beauty of the Five-Foot Fury of Asbury Park". Esquire.
- Maslin, Janet (December 1, 1987). "Throw Momma from the Train". The New York Times.
- "Danny DeVito lends his voice to 'The Simpsons'". Observer-Reporter. February 11, 1991. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- ""The Simpsons" guests stars over the years". CBS. February 17, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "Matilda movie review". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
- "Hercules". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
- "Danny DeVito Movie Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
- Petski, Denise (December 6, 2019). "'Reno 911!' Revival Gets Green Light At Quibi". Deadline. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- Newman, Melinda (September 13, 2010). "Danny DeVito Reminisces About Growing Up In New Jersey-www.njmonthly.com". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "Danny DeVito". Emmy Award.
- Schneider, Michael (March 9, 2005). "DeVito king of 'Queen B'". Variety. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "The story of how Danny DeVito joined 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'". Far Out. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
- "Danny DeVito gets star on Hollywood Walk". KTAR.com. Bonneville International. Associated Press. August 18, 2011. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Pokémon Fans Petitioning to Make Danny DeVito the Voice of Pikachu (He'd Be Perfect)". Yahoo!. February 2, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- @paleycenter (April 2, 2016). "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" (Tweet). Retrieved May 2, 2016 – via Twitter.
- "The Sunshine Boys – Reviews". What's On Stage. May 18, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- "One Direction's 'Steal My Girl' Video Features Danny DeVito... What!?". MTV News. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
- "One Direction's New 'Steal My Girl' Video Will Feature Danny DeVito". Billboard. October 11, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- "Curmudgeons". Curmudgeons. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016.
- Parker, Dylan (November 30, 2022). "How Danny DeVito's Simpsons Role Changed The Show Forever". The Things. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
- "Broadway Review: 'The Price' Starring Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, Danny DeVito". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2023.
- Christian Holub (November 30, 2021). "Danny DeVito on why he returned to the Penguin for new Batman comic 'Gotham City Villains'". Entertainment Weekly.
- Guttarado, Andrew (September 25, 2019). "Danny DeVito, Never Retire (Bitch)". The Ringer. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
- Jenkins, Mark (September 26, 2013). "For Richer And For Poorer, But What Of That Vanishing Middle?". NPR. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- Joseph, Pat (September 10, 2013). "Lights, Camera, Economics Robert Reich brings his message to the big screen". Berkeley. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- 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.
- Lovece, pp. 53, 80
- Wallace, Carol (December 12, 1983). "Chalk Up a Successful Marriage for TV's Tart-Tongued Twosome, Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman". People. Archived from the original on November 20, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- "Exclusive: Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Separate". Entertainment Tonight. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Leonard, Elizabeth (March 15, 2013). "Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Are Back Together". People. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Hoffman, Barbara (March 8, 2018). "Why Rhea Perlman won't divorce Danny DeVito". New York Post. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- Squires, Bethy (May 10, 2019). "Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito May Be Separated, but They're Still Bros". Vulture. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
- David, Mark (April 21, 2015). "Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman Quietly List BevHills Estate". Variety.
- Beale, Lauren (April 30, 2015). "Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman sell estate in Beverly Hills". Los Angeles Times.
- Boon, Jon. "Single In The City! Danny DeVito Moving To New York: He Misses The Big Apple!", RadarOnline, October 15, 2012. Accessed January 24, 2023. "Danny and Rhea used to stay at his vacation home in Interlaken, New Jersey whenever they wanted a break away from Los Angeles. He never really felt an affinity to California and lived there purely for work reasons."
- Budryk, Zack (January 13, 2020). "Danny DeVito endorses Bernie Sanders: 'He is the man to beat Trump'". The Hill. Archived from the original on January 13, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
- Danny DeVito on Twitter
- Danny DeVito at IMDb
- Danny DeVito at the Internet Broadway Database
- Danny DeVito at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Danny DeVito at Emmys.com
- Danny DeVito at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- Danny DeVito on Charlie Rose
- Danny DeVito's Guest DJ Set on KCRW
- Danny DeVito interviewed by KVUE's Roy Faires in 1971 about "Throw Momma From The Train" from Texas Archive of the Moving Image