How do you properly eulogize someone whose presence in the world was like a warm hug? I wish I could say that I knew Dom DeLuise, or that I even had the pleasure of meeting Dom DeLuise, but alas, I cannot. What I can say is that Dom has been making me laugh since I was a tiny little kid, and that when I finally sent him a fan letter a few years ago, he replied immediately with a sweet autographed 8×10 dedicated to me and signed “Love, Dom” with a cute little heart drawn next to it. Included was an ad for his website, which welcomed fans to sign up for his newsletter.
Like clockwork the letters would arrive on the first of the month filled with friendly anecdotes and a recipe appropriate to the season. It was like hearing from your favorite uncle in California. I can’t remember when the letters stopped coming, but shortly after their absence became conspicuous, I read that Dom had been having medical problems. It’s striking, though, that he made the effort to treat his fans like family for as long as he possibly could. I hope he knew how much we loved him.
In honor of his passing, I encourage you to revisit his work. Whether you’re listening to him voice an adorable Don Bluth cartoon, watching him chase Burt Reynolds down the beach with a knife, or trying out one of his recipes, I’m sure you will find something to make you smile, even as you wipe a tear from your eye.
*My favorite story in Dom’s cookbooks is about the time he tried to wash the baby Jesus in his family’s nativity scene. He was just a boy, the baby’s face was dusty, and in an effort to be helpful, Dom scrubbed his face right off. And I thought I was the only kid with that kind of luck.
Thanks for the memories, Dom. Our thoughts are with your lovely family…who has come to feel an awful lot like our family too.