Although his profile has dwindled of late, there is no denying that Danny Devito, all 4ft 9 of him, can be considered a true Hollywood legend.
Born Daniel Michael DeVito Jr, “Danny” as he is affectionately known by millions of filmgoers, was brought up in the city of Asbury Park in New Jersey.
DeVito boarded at a number of schools and even attended the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty Culture where he learnt to be a hair stylist. Eyebrows may be raised when people discover his unconventional early career path, but DeVito is adamant that this was where he developed a sense of something that had baffled men since the dawn of time – how a woman’s mind works.
Five years later, for reasons unbeknown to him, ambitious DeVito left the world of styling women’s hair and tried his luck at acting, enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
After graduating, DeVito starred in a little known off–Broadway play called One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. The show was a success and was later turned into a film directed by Milos Foreman.
Despite the film being ranked as one of the greatest films of all time, DeVito struggled for many years as an actor. After many failed auditions, the young actor began to feel like his miniature size may have been letting him down.
With his lack of success in auditions, one interview and tryout with TV directors in particular left DeVito enraged. Despite giving it his all, he was still turned away. Without hesitation, DeVito slammed down the script and remarked “Who wrote this shit anyway?” The directors realised this was the man they were looking for and he was subsequently cast as Louie De Palma, the lead role in American sitcom, Taxi.
After a five-year run and numerous Golden Globe and Emmy wins, DeVito left the small screen and headed for the bright lights of Hollywood, this time a star. Roles in Terms of Endearment, Romancing The Stone, Twins, and Junior established DeVito as a Hollywood A–Lister and fame came his way.
By now, his height did not hinder him one bit, and he was even cast as the Penguin in Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns alongside Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer. With these starring roles came fortune and DeVito, along with his wife Rhea Pearlman from Cheers, founded a production company, Jersey Films.
The production company revealed the Hollywood funny man to be an astute businessman, backing films such as the then unknown Pulp Fiction, Matilda and Hoffa.
With an alleged net worth of $70 Million, DeVito may be forgiven for being somewhat smug, but he still likes to help out young budding film writers by looking at their scripts and seeing if he can produce it. Staying true to his left wing views, he isn’t flashy with his many millions and lives in a modest house and drives an electric car.
Since 2000 DeVito has stayed mainly behind the camera, but with a highly anticipated sequel to the 80’s hit comedy Twins set to be redeveloped, with the return of Arnie and Eddie Murphy, it seems the little guy is set to achieve the same dizzy heights he experienced at the peak of his success.