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Joseph Bologna

  • Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
  • Birthday: December 30
Date of passing: 
August 13, 2017

Obituary

Obituary: 

Joseph Bologna was an actor and writer best known for his performance as King Kaiser in the 1982 comedy My Favorite Year and his Oscar-nominated work as a screenwriter of the film Lovers and Other Strangers. Bologna and his wife Renee Taylor had first written the work for a 1968 Broadway production directed by Charles Grodin.

Bologna also appeared in the films Made for Each Other, a semi-autobiographical comedic love story he wrote with Taylor; Transylvania 6-5000; The Woman in Red; Coupe de Ville; Jersey Girl and Big Daddy.

Additionally, Bologna had roles on the television series Rags to Riches, Married with Children, Top of the Heap, Daddy Dearest, L.A. Law, Burke’s Law, Caroline in the City, Cosby, Superman, The Nanny, According to Jim and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Bologna and Taylor won an Emmy Award in 1973 for their work on the Marlo Thomas TV special Acts of Love and Other Comedies. The duo was also nominated for an Emmy for their writing on the variety special Paradise.

Joseph Bologna was an actor and writer best known for his performance as King Kaiser in the 1982 comedy My Favorite Year and his Oscar-nominated work as a screenwriter of the film Lovers and Other Strangers. Bologna and his wife Renee Taylor had first written the work for a 1968 Broadway production directed by Charles Grodin.

Bologna also appeared in the films Made for Each Other, a semi-autobiographical comedic love story he wrote with Taylor; Transylvania 6-5000; The Woman in Red; Coupe de Ville; Jersey Girl and Big Daddy.

Additionally, Bologna had roles on the television series Rags to Riches, Married with Children, Top of the Heap, Daddy Dearest, L.A. Law, Burke’s Law, Caroline in the City, Cosby, Superman, The Nanny, According to Jim and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Bologna and Taylor won an Emmy Award in 1973 for their work on the Marlo Thomas TV special Acts of Love and Other Comedies. The duo was also nominated for an Emmy for their writing on the variety special Paradise.

Together they penned 22 plays, including It Had to Be You, Bermuda Avenue Triangle and If You Ever Leave Me I'm Going With You!

Bologna died August 13, 2017, in Duarte, California. He was 82.

Upon Bologna's passing, his publicity representative, Dick Guttman, released this biographical appreciation:

Celebrated actor, director, playwright and Oscar-nominated and Emmy and Writers Guild Award-winning screenwriter Joe Bologna, surrounded by family and friends, died peacefully this Sunday morning (August 13, 2017) at 10 a.m. at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. He was 82. "He had a beautiful life and a beautiful death, having fully and gratefully experienced three years since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at Cedars Sinai,"  his wife of 52 years, actress-writer Renée Taylor, stated, adding that "His team of doctors, who prolonged his life, were Dr. Roger Lerner and Dr. David Hoffman of Cedars Sinai, in Beverly Hills. For the last six months during the cancer's most aggressive stage, Dr. Vincent Chung and Dr. Stefanie Mooney of City of Hope gave him back a wonderful quality of life by creating a personalized treatment and palliative care plan, so that he could receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Night of 100 Stars on February 26 of this year, take a month-long trip to his favorite place, Italy, with his family in June, and attend the 35th Anniversary celebration of My Favorite Year, on July 27th." 

Bologna, a beloved role model in the Italian American community, was the son of a bootblack who shined a million shoes to put Joe through Brown University, where he graduated as an art history major. Following his graduation, he served in the United State Marine Corps. He went on to direct commercials as a successful Mad Man at Dancer Fitzgerald and Sampson, winning many Cleo Awards. He and Renée wrote their first Broadway show, Lovers and Other Strangers, which was directed by Charles Grodin. They went on to write the screenplay for the film adaptation, which was nominated for an Academy Award. They wrote and starred in Made for Each Other, which Newsweek magazine called "the best love story and comedy of the year." It also won a Writers Guild Award. They won an Emmy for the Marlo Thomas special, Acts of Love and Other Comedies. They were also nominated for the critically acclaimed CBS series Calucci's Department, their HBO show Bedrooms, and the PBS series American Dream Machine. They co-wrote and co-directed Love Is All There Is, where they discovered and introduced Angelina Jolie. They also wrote 22 published plays, many of which were performed on Broadway, including It Had to Be You and Bermuda Avenue Triangle. Their last Broadway show that they wrote and co-starred in was If You Ever Leave Me I'm Going With You. Joe's gifts as an actor, were a rare combination of humor and sex appeal.

In film he appeared in Honor Thy Father, with Raf Vallone; Blame It On Rio, with Michael Caine and Demi Moore; Woman in Red, with Gene Wilder; and Big Daddy, with Adam Sandler. During the golden age of made-for-television movies, he appeared in One Cooks, the Other Doesn't, with Susan Pleshette and Rosanna Arquette, and Sins, with Joan Collins. He also appeared in the Married with Children spin-off Top of the Heap, with Matt LeBlanc, and Rags to Riches, with Tisha Campbell.

Bologna's final work is a film he wrote and starred in, the soon-to-be-released Tango Shalom. It is a family affair in which he costars with Taylor and lifelong friend Lainie Kazan. His daughter, Zizi Bologna, was the music supervisor, and his son, Gabriel, directed.

Bologna and Taylor lived in Beverly Hills for 43 years. Taylor was a regular on the Merv Griffin Show when their mutual manager, Buddy Allen, introduced them. He told Renée, "I want you to meet someone I think you'll have a comedy rapport with." When they met, Renée looked in Joe's eyes and thought to herself, "This is the man I'm going to marry." Later, Joe told her, laughingly, that he thought to himself at the time, "This woman is looking at me very funny." When Taylor informed Griffin that the wedding they had planned for New York's Tavern on the Green would be extremely expensive, he said, "Let me give you the wedding here on my sound stage." Griffin not only hosted the event, he filmed and aired it on his show. Renée and Joe celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary on Friday, August 11, and over the years Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama and Swami Muktananda blessed their union. The couple renewed their wedding vows five times, in a different religion each time.

Joe's longtime friend, Dr. Roger Lerner, from Cedars Sinai, came to visit him late last night at City of Hope, and asked Joe, who was going in and out of consciousness, if he was comfortable. Joe, the lighthearted comedian to the end, replied, "No, but I make a living."

 That night, Renee, hoping he would say something funny, asked him, "So, Joe, what do you think is the meaning of life?" Joe said, "Love."

 

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Joseph Bologna

Joseph Bologna

Photo credit: 
Ryan Miller/Invision/AP

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