Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


A word about weight

deluise.jpgPicking up on something I saw on Mark Evanier’s blog about Dom DeLuise:

In 2002, I was executive producer of the Ovation Awards here in Los Angeles. The director of the show suggested we invite Dom DeLuise to be one of the presenters. I loved Dom DeLuise’s work, but I had concerns. As delicately as I could ask (and I’m sure I could have been more tactful), I wanted to know how he was going to be able to get on and off the stage. The man was massive. He could barely walk. How was his health? And how was the audience going to feel about this? These were real concerns, no matter how harshly the director looked at me. He promised he’d figure it out, and he did — in the best manner of stage misdirection, he drew our attention elsewhere while Mr. DeLuise was helped into his position in the dark. The light came onto him and he was absolutely wonderful. He got huge laughs, and I was glad we all had him for the event.

This was the second time I met Dom DeLuise.

The first time had been seven years prior, when  I went to Buster Keaton’s 100th birthday at The Silent Movie theatre in Hollywood. Buster wasn’t there, having died almost 30 years prior, but Eleanor Keaton was (I sat next to her and spent much of the time talking to her), and so were Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft and their good friend… Dom DeLuise.  The three of them were big Keaton fans, and at that time, I was well-versed in every aspect of Buster Keaton minutia, so they kept calling on me for answers to various questions about Buster. (Now much of that information has been replaced in my head by, well, certainly nothing as important.) When everyone went to sit, Mr. DeLuise was so large that he couldn’t fit into any of the theatre seats. The proprietor of the movie  house found an extra wide stacking chair, the sort one sees in conference centers in Wisconsin or at garden parties populated by immense people wearing muu-muus, and plopped it against the wall in the left aisle. He then took the stage with microphone in hand and acknowledged the celebrities in the house, landing finally on Dom DeLuise poured into this chair on the aisle, and paid what was intended as a warm tribute, ending it by saying with a glow, “The last person we had sitting in that special chair in the aisle was John Candy.” John Candy had died the previous year from a heart attack at age 43. A connection that every one of us made when we looked over at Dom DeLuise sitting in that chair.

4 Responses to “A word about weight”

  1. Joe Says:

    My favorite from the above: ” …landing finally on Dom DeLuise poured into this chair on the aisle…”

  2. Chris Crosby Says:

    Dom DeLuise was FAT? Shocking! THAT must be why he died at the young, youthful age of 75.

    Seriously, obesity is a horrible, horrible problem, but Dom DeLuise is almost an INSPIRATION to fat people everywhere. He lived to “old man age” while being morbidly obese, quite an accomplishment. It’s sad he’s gone, but he seems to have lived a long, happy, and productive life.

    The average person in this world currently lives to about 70, so Mr. DeLuise scored five points ABOVE average in the game of how-long-can-you-live. Unlike, say… John Candy.

  3. Lee Wochner Says:

    Chris Crosby seems to be attacking points that I didn’t make. (Which is called a straw man argument.) Yes, Dom DeLuise was productive, seemed happy, and lived to the U.S. average male age (which is 75, not 70 as you claim). I didn’t say he “died young” and I didn’t say he died because of overweight. I just told two stories about his weight. Crosby is the one drawing conclusions.

    The original draft of that post had a further three paragraphs about a very close friend of mine in college who was morbidly obese, and who finally, after years of struggle to lose weight, finally had gastric-bypass surgery. Without the operation, her doctor warned her, she was 3-5 years from death; her joints were failing, she had constant terrible rashes, blood problems, and on and on. When I saw her again two years ago, post-op, I was astonished by the transformation. Underneath all that fat, was a beautiful woman. Which she herself was now discovering — at age 40. It’s a good story now, but it was a sad tale before then.

  4. Chris Crosby Says:

    “Chris Crosby seems to be attacking points that I didn’t make.”

    I didn’t mean my post to be an “attack,” just a (much too?) spirited response, spurred on not only by your blog post but by a lot of other things I’ve read on the internet since Mr. DeLuise passed away. I’m sorry you took it as an attack.

    “Yes, Dom DeLuise was productive, seemed happy, and lived to the U.S. average male age (which is 75, not 70 as you claim).”

    I didn’t claim that, I said “the average person in this world,” not “the average male in the United States of America.” (Though even there he hits the mark.)

    Again, I’m not saying it was GOOD that he was obese or anything of the sort (I’m 100% opposed to obesity as I deal with it every day of my life). I guess I felt I needed to say how impressed I was that he actually lived so LONG. Because so many of the things I’ve been reading have focused so much on his weight, and have almost seemed to imply that obesity killed him at a young age (without actually saying that). Mr. DeLuise certainly died TOO SOON, but at the same time, he was 75 years old.

    When George Carlin died at 71, everybody said how great he was. I don’t remember that many people dragging out sad stories about how he was too skinny to sumo-wrestle.

    (That probably last part does not make any sense except within my brain.)

    But again, my apologies. It was a late night knee-jerk response to much more than only your post.

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