Hollywood’s wise old funny man
It’s November the 17. Danny DeVito has just turned 71. Yes, that’s 7 whole decades on earth. It is an incredibly long time. He was born in 1944 when none of our present day demigods like the famous singers of today or the famous Tom’s : Hanks, Cruise and the hip Hardy were even born. No one knew about the existence of Neo Anderson or of his confusing matrix of ideas about existence of a parallel world that borders on life and death. Pop god Michael Jackson had not yet arrived on the moonwalk- stage and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at LA strutted the hand signs of ancient Hollywood starlets such as Myrna Loy.
In fact so old is Danny DeVito and his solid allegiance to a Hollywood he has shaped with his cute, heart-wrenching ways that he could literally become a pluralistic adjective to the word “wisdom”. Must not we forget that the wise old Hollywood crackpot who’s spent his bones and energies in making us laugh all his life was barely 1 when World War II hadn’t yet finished.
Though it has got no practical convergence at all but must we pay heed to a strange fact. In 1945 Adolf Hitler, inarguably the world’s most damning condemnation of the very idea of humanity passed away and some weird looking kid, possibly peeing in his nappies in some suburban part of New Jersey completely oblivious to the tremors caused by the great war was happily chewing on a juice stick.
That kid, aged 1 in 1945 was today’s 71 year old Danny DeVito.
For the sake of the punchy and eccentric “DeVitoisms’s” it seems he waited for the tyrant to blow to dust before he could occupy our world’s showing his endless zest to celebrate that fun event called life. 71 but only another year wiser, holier than thou, uglier, rancid from the chore of his tireless muscles that won’t stop forming a weird pose to make you laugh- we celebrate the charm and talent of Hollywood’s funny man Danny DeVito.
Every actor primarily stands for something. There is a genuine partake in a heavy formation of emotions. What is it that DeVito’s marvelous career teach us fans, critics, cynics and appalling social media activists? There must be something that the pint-sized wisecrack silently stands for?
If you have paid some attention to Danny’s craft and it seems highly unlikely you wouldn’t have for that gasping for breath sort of voice, coupled with the absolute lack of hair on his scalp that unfurls amazing spontaneity is unavoidable- then you would have realized something special. The life of a comedian is never easy and though Danny DeVito isn’t merely a comedian but a perfect craftsman of method acting, something he has shown with remarkable verve- you would realize that only few are able to walk on the tightrope juggling between character-acting and comedy. Many have tried and perished.
Where are the Mathew Broderick’s or Eddie Murphy’s today? In many ways, for all his wicked intelligence and brilliant dead pan humor and a genuine feel for sarcasm using which he has toughened his spine in a Hollywood that discounts mediocrity as quickly as a shampoo gets rid of dandruff- Danny DeVito has made a name despite bearing his initials to a fixed genre of acting.
And this amazing triumph that he has garnered by roughing it out doing it all be it theatre, Off-Broadway productions and mainstream cinema- DeVito has emerged his own man unharmed by the many styles of movies he’s done and made his own.
A tireless performer
They say if you have the special in you then tomorrow is yours. But, who knows that that special skill or talent is. Not everyone is a born Tom Cruise with those good looks. Not everyone is born Bruce Wayne. Godfather’s exist, yes, in reality, but how many of them have truly made it and if, then have they not have an entire “clan” working for their success?
For a man neither blessed with the style, aura or charm of a Hollywood A-lister or having the awe one expects from a sex symbol nor bestowed with the gigantic frame of someone like a Tony Curtis, Clint Eastwood or Rock Hudson, or that of an Arnold Schwarzenegger who’s mostly looked the actor bit whilst lifting an entire gym of the usual dip of “benchpress”, Danny DeVito came out of nowhere and despite and struck a chord with us audiences. And, yes we are celebrating the triumph of a man who is all of 5 feet in height, has an almost draught styled scalp with hardly a piece of hair on it and has been fat all his life. Yet, the New Yorker born to a middle house business family with an encouraging father who knew nothing of Hollywood as did any of his family members- has managed to remain a central symbol fo lasting triumph in the movie business.
An alumni of the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts where he went to pursue his fondness and passion for Cosmetology, DeVito soon discovered that he was meant to act. It was a little tough ask since he had no ‘influencers’, had less than an impressive bank balance and the only comfort factor he could find was in the friendship and bond he developed his another young actor called Michael Douglas, who he first met at a Playwright workshop at Connecticut.
With no substantial role in offing, DeVito was soon disillusioned with the glitter of Hollywood and soon decided that he should focus on Off-Broadway theatre productions. And, so he did. Ever the persistent pursuer of his dreams, he never gave up and with impressive stage productions such as ” The Shrinking Bride” and ” Lady Liberty”, he was all set for his very first Movie break in Dreams of Glass, a low key 1970 movie. Sadly though, for Danny the 26 year old promising actor with a giant heart, almost the size of the Empire State’s Building success hadn’t yet arrived.
He soon met with Michael Douglas again with whom he was introduced to popular filmmaker Milos Forman (also known for Jim Carrey’s Man on the Moon). DeVito was offered by far the most prominent role of his career in a major upcoming film starring Jack Nicholson. In ” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, DeVito was sure of finding success, the movie being a major career launch of the theatre exponent.
But, sadly the dream of being recognized all over America given such a potent platform with Nicholson too did very little to stoke his Hollywood wings. A sad and depressed DeVito was undoubtedly gutted, but he didn’t give up. Who would have known that by depicting the life of the most intense albeit most trivial of New York’s characters, caught up in the smoldering hot troubles and struggles of life- DeVito would sketch his perfect success story.
New York, a city that we have seen being attacked by everyone, in both fictional parlance- by the Godzilla and by Spiderman’s menacing enemies as in the real life tragedies, is also home to an interesting cavalcade of characters who are symbolic to the city’s “never say die” spirit. Essaying inarguably the most path-breaking role of his career at that time playing “Louie De Palma” a NY cabbie in a bustling and maddening city gave DeVito his great break and much wanted career resuscitation and us fans, an iconic actor.
Major successes were then in the offing. From the tumultuous but funny 1980s to the competitive and dynamic 90s, DeVito was a regular feature in a diverse ensemble of movies that bordered of humor, drama and emotional yet eccentrically quirky array of movies such as Romancing the Stone, Get Shorty, Pulp Fiction and Man on the Moon.
Collaborating his established legends such as John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, the small but mighty legend DeVito flexed his comic muscles in a marvelous range of cinema that was to greet his ever loving fans who adored him in 2002’s Death to Smoochy, his only collaboration with late legend Robin Williams.
It is exciting and surprising to say the least that whilst the once struggling New Jersey born actor was collaborating with successful mega movie stars, he even put on the unconventional but brilliant evil hat in 1992’s Batman Returns. The caped crusader, thus, played by the then Batman, Michael Keaton had an unlikely but cunning nemesis in The Penguin, played by a clever DeVito who excelled in this mega success experiment.
Isn’t life just great! We think so and so must Danny DeVito.
From convincing audiences about his hideously funny and tummy aching act as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s on screen twin in “Twins” where none of the character actually looked the brotherly part, as was spelt out in the script to teaching a bunch of brainless Army kids the charm and effervescent delight in reading Shakespeare in 1994’s Renaissance Man ( DeVito played Bill Rago) – there is nothing left to prove to anyone about his astounding talent.
If big wonders come in small packets then in Danny DeVito’s restless and brave frame lies a major Hollywood success story. Perhaps, we would do well to remember that persistence and strength of character are the only keys to success since not everyone has the jackpot of good looks, tall or muscial built or a frame that spells panic.
Despite having it none and still having it all, DeVito has done it all by himself and by virtue of his pure talent. Bravo Sir!!