Star of Stage and Screen, Joe Bologna Dies at Age 82
Deadline reports that stage and screen actor, director and screenwriter Joe Bologna passed away yesterday, August 13th in CA at the age of 82. In a statement, his wife of 52 years, actress Renee Taylor shared, "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." She adds, "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 enjoyed a long run in film and television. His breakthrough film, Lovers and Other Strangers, written with his wife Renée Taylor, was based on the true-life circumstances of organizing a wedding on short notice with the involvement of his Italian extended family and Renée's Jewish clan. Other film roles for Bologna included portraying the Sid Caesar-based character "King Kaiser" in the 1982 comedy hit My Favorite Year, starring Peter O'Toole as a drunken actor modeled after Errol Flynn, and as Lenny Koufax, the frustrated father of Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler) in the 1999 comedy Big Daddy.
Bologna wrote, directed and starred in 2001's IF YOU EVER LEAVE ME...I'M GOING WITH YOU! on Broadway. He also wrote, directed and appeared on Broadway in 1981's IT HAD TO BE YOU and wrote the 1968 Broadway comedy LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS.
In 1987, Bologna starred in the TV musical sitcom Rags to Riches as the millionaire mogul turned foster father, Nick Foley. The show aired for two seasons. He also made a guest star appearance alongside Taylor in CBS's The Nanny.
In 2017, Bologna received the Night of 100 Stars Oscar Gala Lifetime Achievement Award from actor comedian Richard Lewis and his peers to celebrate his 60 year career and for his efforts to help save The Motion Picture Home Hospital in 2012.
A statement by Veteran Hollywood publicist Edward Lozzi reads:
"As Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor's publicist and friend for over 25 years, I treat them like family. Joe Bologna was a really witty and funny Oscar nominated writer, Emmy winner and a mentor to me. His advice and commentary were priceless. Every 5 years Joe and Renee got married in a full Jewish wedding ceremony- the first being on the Merv Griffin Show..I was the ring bearer for a number of those weddings. Joe Bologna, was a true East coast Italian American, who had the talent to Costar with A-stars like Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine, Raf Vallone, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie and many others ... I loved playing bocce ball, and smoking cigars with Joe Bologna. He was an excellent card player who played regularly in agent Norby Walter's celebrity poker game. He was a beloved brother, husband, Father and provider. His Direction of stage productions, commercials and motion pictures was genius. The brilliant Award winning stage and screen writing team of Joe and Renee (Bologna & Taylor) is over. But Renee will carry on with his brilliance including her One Woman stage show My Life on a Diet, playing on stages nationally and her upcoming one woman show Wild Wild Mae West, portraying Mae West. Both of these productions have Joe Bologna's signature on them.
In 2017 Joe Bologna received the Night of 100 Stars Oscar Gala's Lifetime Achievement Award from Richard Lewis and his peers for his work in motion pictures and his successful efforts to help save the Motion Picture Home's Hospital. I will always feel privileged to be part of that night only a few months ago. A lover of life and how to portray it in his craft. Always remembered."
Edward Lozzi, Founder & COO, Edward Lozzi & Associates PR
Beverly Hills/New York
Photo credit: Nathan Sternfeld