Danny DeVito was born in New Jersey in 1944. Bullied as a kid for his smallish height, he had his big break when he starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). He climbed to popularity on the situation comedy Taxi (1978 83), that he won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy. He afterwards produced and directed many movies, including Matilda (1996), in addition to his wife of more than 30 years, actress Rhea Perlman. DeVito and Perlman declared they were breaking up in October 2012.
DeVito was raised by his mom, Julia, and his dad, Danny, Sr., a small business owner whose various enterprises contained a dry cleaners, luncheonette, dairy farm factory outlet and pool hall.
He remembers, “I was harassed; I could not slow-dancing with the girls I needed to because my face would be in a place where I might be thought of as going too quickly.” His height also made him a goal for area bullies. “I took lots of lumps,” DeVito recalls. “But I had plenty of buddies who helped me and looked out for me.”
Although he played in high school, when DeVito graduated in 1962 he failed to contemplate playing a viable career path. DeVito remembers, “I was not certain what I needed to do when I got out of high school. School did not appear a likely or desired choice, and I did not need to go too far away.” DeVito was lounging round the house one day when his older sister suggested he work as a hairdresser in the salon she possessed. He recalls thinking, “Well, I am not doing anything else, and that I really could meet lots of girls there.”
After 18 months—and no love stories—at his sister’s salon, DeVito determined to change to the more profitable cosmetic profession. He applied to take make-up courses in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Nyc. Applicants must execute a monologue to get into the school’s programs, and after his monologue received positive feedback, DeVito chose to take acting classes at the same time. He immediately realized that acting was his true calling.
While in Connecticut, DeVito read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood; after seeing an ad for Hollywood auditions for a film edition of the publication, DeVito moved to La.
DeVito failed to get a part in the movie In Cold Blood, or in other things in the beginning of his profession. Rather, he remembers, “I was employed as a car parker and I hung round the Sunset Strip with each of the flower children. I ‘d long hair and that I wore a raincoat and sneakers, and that I fit right in. But I wished to play.” DeVito shortly moved back to Nyc, where he got parts in several off Broadway plays.
In 1971, DeVito got the part of Martini within an off Broadway production of Ken Kesey’s classic novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That part led to DeVito’s big break four years after, when Michael Douglas produced a movie version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and requested DeVito to resurrect his stage character.
In 1978, DeVito auditioned to get a new NBC show called Taxi. Before starting his audition, DeVito notoriously flung the script back on the table and demanded, “One thing I would like to learn before we begin: Who wrote this shit?” That show of caustic wit got him the portion of the endearingly tyrannical taxi dispatcher Louie DePalma.
DeVito went to star in dozens of movies through the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s. DeVito returned to television in 2005, starring in the cult hit FX show It Is Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
San Francisco Chronicle critic Tim Goodman describes the show as a “politically incorrect stone.” DeVito plays a morally disabled dad with this edgy situation comedy.
Along with his work on It Is Always Sunny in Philadelphia, DeVito has made several movies in the latter part of his career. In the year 2012, DeVito voiced the title character in the hit animated movie The Lorax, on the basis of the favorite novel by Dr. Seuss.
Along with playing, DeVito has also enjoyed substantial success as a director and producer. He’s since directed half a dozen other feature films. DeVito possesses his own production firm, Jersey Films, bringing in producer credits on such well-regarded films as Pulp Fiction (1994), Erin Brockovich (2000) and Be Cool (2005).
“Hollywood is a jungle,” he once said. “It is filled with quicksand, vermin and flesh eating creatures. Making a film isn’t a walk in the park. Every picture is much like browsing dangerous terrain.” “Fighting a conflict and winning is interesting,” he once said, adding, “and this company is interesting. I really like it. It is the finest company on earth.”
While playing in a 1970 off Broadway production of The Shrinking Bride, DeVito met actress Rhea Perlman, famous for her long-running character on the TV sitcom Cheers. DeVito and Perlman moved in together two weeks after assembly, and married in 1982. In 2013, following months of separation, the couple reunited.