Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 – 11:24 AM
Celebrated actor, director and playwright and Beverly Hills resident Joseph Bologna died today after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer, his family announced. Bologna, 82, succumbed peacefully at about 10 a.m., surrounded by family and friends at City of Hope in Duarte, publicist Ed Lozzi said.
Bologna, a graduate of the Ivy League’s Brown University who served a tour in the Marine Corps before he landed his first job producing and directing Manhattan-based TV commercials, had a long history in movies, television and on stage.
His breakthrough film, 1970’s Lovers and Other Strangers, which he wrote with Renee Taylor, his wife of 52 years, was based on the true-life circumstances of staging their own 1965 wedding on short notice. Several relatives performed as extras in the film that earned the couple an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay. “Every 5 years Joe and Renee got married in a full Jewish wedding ceremony- the first being on the Merv Griffin Show, said Lozzi. “I was the ring bearer for a number of those weddings.”
In 1971, the couple won a Writer’s Guild Award for their collaboration in writing and acting in the movie, Made for Each Other. In 1973, they received an Emmy for penning the TV Movie Special Acts of Love and Other Comedies.
As a commercial director, Bologna captured numerous Cleo Awards.
Among Bologna’s notable acting roles were in the 1982 movie My Favorite Year, the 1984 film Blame it on Rio and 1987’s TV Musical sitcom Rags to Riches. In 1996-98, he was the voice of Inspector Dan Turpin in a number of episodes of Superman: The Animated Series.
His final work is the soon-to-be-released movie, Tango Shalom, which also features Taylor, actress Lainie Kazan and Bologna’s two children, daughter Zizi Bologna and son Gabriel, a BHHS graduate, as music director and director.
Earlier this year, Bologna was given the Night of 100 Stars Oscar Gala Lifetime Achievement Award to mark his 60-year career and his efforts to help save The Motion Picture Home Hospital in 2012.
“Joe Bologna was a really witty and funny Oscar-nominated writer, Emmy winner and a mentor to me,” Lozzi said. “He was a true East Coast Italian American who had the talent to co-star with A-stars like Peter O’Toole, Michael Caine, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie and many others. He was a beloved brother, husband, father and provider.”
A publicist for the Bologna family said that last night, as Bologna was lapsing in and out of consciousnness, a doctor friend asked him if he was comfortable. Bologna, a comedian to the end, replied, “No, but I make a living.”
Bologna is survived by his wife and children. “He had a beautiful life and a beautiful death,” Taylor said.