Danny DeVito




November 17, 1944



Main Role

Mr. Swackhammer

Daniel Michael "Danny" DeVito, Jr. is an American actor, comedian, director and producer. He first gained prominence for his portrayal of taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma on the ABC and NBC television series Taxi (1978–1983), for which he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

DeVito co-founded Jersey Films with Michael Shamberg. Soon afterwards, Stacey Sher became an equal partner. The production company is known for films such as Pulp Fiction, Garden State, and Freedom Writers. DeVito also owns Jersey Television, which produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911!. DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman starred together in his 1996 film Matilda, based onRoald Dahl's children's novel. He currently stars as Frank Reynolds on the FXX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

He also directs and produces graphic short horror films for his Internet venture "The Blood Factory." He has appeared in several of them, as have friends of his and members of his family.

Early lifeEdit

DeVito was born in Neptune Township, New Jersey, the son of Julia (née Moccello), a homemaker, and Daniel DeVito. DeVito grew up in a family of five, with his parents and two older sisters. DeVito is of Italian descent (his family is originally from San Fele,Basilicata)and grew up in Asbury Park. He boarded at Oratory Preparatory School, in Summit, New Jersey, and graduated in 1962. DeVito went to the boarding school at the age of 14, after he persuaded his father to send him there as it would keep him out of trouble. After leaving the boarding school he subsequently trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which he graduated in 1966. In his early theater days, he performed with the Colonnades Theater Lab, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and, along with his wifeRhea Perlman, appeared in plays produced by the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective.

Film acting careerEdit

DeVito played Martini in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, reprising his role from the 1971 off-Broadway play of the same name. He 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. After Taxi ended, DeVito began a successful film career, starting with roles in 1983's Terms of Endearment, as the comic rogue in the romantic adventure Romancing the Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and its 1985 sequel, The Jewel of the Nile. 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. Two years later, DeVito reunited with Douglas and Turner in The War of the Roses, which he directed and in which he co-starred.

DeVito's work during this time includes Other People's Money with Gregory Peck, director Barry Levinson's Tin Men as a competitive rival salesman to Richard Dreyfuss' character, two co-starring vehicles with Arnold Schwarzenegger (the comedies Twins and Junior), and playing The Penguin as a deformed sociopath in director Tim Burton's Batman Returns(1992).

Although generally a comic actor, DeVito expanded into dramatic roles with The Rainmaker, Hoffa (1992), which he directed and in which he co-starred with Jack Nicholson, Jack the Bear (1993), L.A. Confidential, The Big Kahuna, and Heist (2001), as a gangsternemesis to Gene Hackman's character.

DeVito has an interest in documentaries: In 2006, he began a partnership with Morgan Freeman's company ClickStar, on which he hosts a documentary channel called Jersey Docs. He was also interviewed in the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car, about his interest in and ownership of electric vehicles.


In April 2012, DeVito made his West End acting debut in a revival of the Neil Simon play The Sunshine Boys - alongside Olivier Award-winning actor Richard Griffiths. The play previewed at the Savoy Theatre from 27 April 2012, opened on 17 May and played a limited 12-week season until 28 July.


DeVito has become a major film and television producer. Through Jersey Films, he has produced many films, including Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Erin Brockovich (for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture), Gattaca, and Garden State. In 1999, DeVito produced and co-starred in Man on the Moon, a film about the unusual life of his former Taxi co-star, Andy Kaufman, who was played in the film by Jim Carrey. DeVito also produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, as well as the film spin off Reno 911!: Miami.


DeVito has directed the following motion pictures:

  • The Ratings Game (1984)
  • Throw Momma from the Train (1987)
  • The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Hoffa (1992)
  • Matilda (1996)
  • Death to Smoochy (2002)
  • Duplex (2003)

The War of the Roses was a commercial and critical success, as was Matilda. However, Death to Smoochy and Duplex were not as successful.DeVito has also finished production on an untitled "apocalyptic thriller".

Television and voice-over workEdit

In 1977, DeVito played the role of John 'John John the Apple' DeAppoliso in the Starsky and Hutch episode titled "The Collector. " In 1986, DeVito directed and starred in an episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. In the black comedy episode from season two, titled "The Wedding Ring", DeVito acquires an engagement ring for his wife (played by his real-life wife, actress Rhea Perlman). When the ring is slipped on his wife's finger, she becomes possessed by the ring's former owner, a murderous black widow.

In 1990, DeVito and Perlman played a couple (Vic & Paula) commenting on the state of the environment in The Earth Day Special.

In addition to his Taxi work, DeVito voiced Herb Powell, Homer Simpson's half-brother, on two episodes of The Simpsons. In 1996, he provided the voice of Mister Swackhammer in the Looney Tunes film Space Jam. In 1997, he was the voice of the satyr Philoctetes in the film Hercules

In 1999, DeVito hosted the last Saturday Night Live episode before the year 2000. He earned a 2004 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for an episode of Friends, following four Emmy nominations (including a 1981 win) for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Taxi. In 2006, DeVito joined the cast of the FX Networks television series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Frank Reynolds.

In 2011, DeVito received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television.

In 2012, DeVito was in the animated film The Lorax, as the Lorax, the tree-loving guardian of the forest.

In 2013, along with Rashida Jones, he was a voice guest star on The Changing of the Guardian episode of The Simpsons (aired on January 27, 2013. season 24 episode 11).

Personal lifeEdit

DeVito met actress Rhea Perlman on January 17, 1971, when she went to see a friend in the single performance of the play The Shrinking Bride, which also featured DeVito. They moved in together two weeks after meeting. The couple 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). Throughout their relationship, Perlman and DeVito have acted alongside each other several times, including in the TV show Taxi and the feature film Matilda (in which they played Matilda's parents). DeVito and Perlman separated in October 2012 after 30 years of marriage and over 40 years together. However, in March 2013, it was reported that they had reconciled and called off the separation. The family resides in Beverly Hills, California, and also spend time at their vacation home in Interlaken, New Jersey.

Devito is a known vegetarian and animal lover. On Twitter, he told his followers to see Forks Over Knives, a well-known health documentary advocating for plant-based diets like veganism. While filming Taxi he refused to kill cockroaches on the set. Devito and Perlman are members of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo, supporting a theater in Oberlin, Ohio, as is filmmaker Jonathan Demme. DeVito co-owned a restaurant called DeVito South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, which closed in 2011.


  • Has his own film company: Jersey Films.
  • Went to Oratory Prep. School in Summit, New Jersey.
  • Before he became an actor he was a qualified hairdresser (stylist)
  • In his New Jersey hometown, one of his relatives ran a hair salon with the relatives of another actor from his neighborhood, Jack Nicholson.
  • He was considered for the role of Sallah in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" but couldn't do it due to his TV commitments.
  • Brought a bag of carrots to munch on during the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. Host Steve Martin presented him with an impromptu bowl of ranch dip in the middle of the ceremony.
  • Daughters: Lucy DeVito (born 1983), Gracie DeVito (born March 1985), son: Daniel J. DeVito (Jake Daniel DeVito) (born October 1987).
  • Often appears in Tim Burton movies.
  • In 1975, under a grant from the American Film Institute, he and Rhea Perlman wrote and produced 'Minestrone', which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and has been translated into five languages.
  • Often portrays sinister people in the movies he's in. He played the Penguin, a mutant crime boss, in "Batman Returns", a cynical gambler in "Space Jam" and "Mars Attacks!", a sleazy talent agent in "Death to Smoochy" and ruthless and greedy businessmen in "Ruthless People", "What's the Worst That Could Happen?", "Matilda" and "Other People's Money".
  • Graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in Hollywood, California in 1966.
  • Attended the final Phish concert with his son and 75,000 others in Coventry, Vermont on August 16, 2004.
  • Appeared alongside his former roommate Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in three films, "Romancing the Stone", its sequel "The Jewel of the Nile", and the black comedy "The War of the Roses".
  • Has appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in three films/movies - two of these films directed and produced by Ivan Reitman - "Twins" & "Junior", and in "Last Action Hero", playing a minor-role, as the voice of Detective Whiskers. Both have played Batman villains, DeVito as The Penguin in "Batman Returns", Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze in "Batman & Robin".
  • Was considered for the role of Det. John Kimble in "Kindergarten Cop", but couldn't secure it due to his small stature. The part went to Arnold Schwarzenegger instead.
  • Was originally set to play Mario in "Super Mario Bros." but backed out and was replaced by Bob Hoskins.
  • Is a huge fan of musician Mike Patton and his bands Fantomas and Peeping Tom, and requested to feature in the video clip for the Peeping Tom single 'Mojo'. He was given a cameo.
  • Was considered for the role of George Costanza in "Seinfeld".
  • Provides the voice of Herbert Powell, Homer Simpson's half-brother.
  • Cousin of filmmaker Jonathan M. Parisen.
  • Frequently appears in films with Jack Nicholson, including "Goin' South", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Terms of Endearment", "Hoffa", and "Mars Attacks!". They have also both played Batman villains: The Joker in "Batman" and The Penguin in "Batman Returns".
  • Lives in Beverly Hills, California and attended the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2008.
  • A staunch supporter of The Democratic Party.
  • Has been nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, three different times in three different decades. In the 1980's for "Going Ape!", in the 1990's for "Batman Returns" and in the 2000's for "Deck the Halls". He has never won.
  • First connection with Michael Douglas happened when he starred in a NY stage production of "Down the Morning Line" in 1969, directed by Douglas and written by Martin Sheen.
  • He was inducted into the 2010 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his services and contributions to Arts and Entertainment.
  • Close friend of Lucy Liu.
  • Co-owner of a restaurant, called DeVito South Beach, in Miami, Florida.
  • Lives in Los Angeles and Malibu, California.
  • In "Romancing the Stone", he makes a Batman-related joke, when he corners Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in the cave ("Move it, before Batman comes home!").
    • Eight years later, he played "the Penguin" in "Batman Returns".
  • Drives a Nissan Leaf 100% electric car.
  • The launch of his and wife Rhea Perlman's production company, "Jersey Films", kicked off with the release of "Hoffa".
  • In the late 1960s, Danny shared a New York apartment with fellow actor Michael Douglas at 338 West 89th Street in Manhattan where the rent was $75 each per month.
  • Co-starred with Michael Douglas in "Romancing the Stone", "Jewel Of the Nile", "War of the Roses", and "Solitary Man". DeVito also starred in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", which Michael Douglas produced.
  • Danny and Rhea met when she went to see him appearing in the off-Broadway play, "The Shrinking Bride" in 1971.
  • Directed one Oscar nominated performance: Anne Ramsey in "Throw Momma from the Train".