Monumental Facts About Danny DeVito, The Unexpected Star

Andrea Papillon

Danny DeVito came into this world against all oddsborn to a 40-year-old mother, he’s joked that they didn’t know whether he was “a baby or a tumor.” Since then, nothing has stopped him. For a man of small stature, DeVito’s personality packs a mighty punch, and he’s proven his talents as an actor, writer, director, producer, as well as a lover of all things New Jersey. Here are 50 wee and mighty facts about the hugely impressive Danny DeVito.


1. Jersey Born and Bred

They say that men are from Mars…unless they’re from Neptune! DeVito was born Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. on November 17, 1944, in a New Jersey township called Neptune.

2. Putting the Ds in Dad

DeVito’s dad, Daniel Sr., took on many small business opportunities in his New Jersey neighborhood. His ventures included a dry-cleaning business, a dairy outlet, and a diner. And just to throw an eight ball in the mix, he owned a pool hall too.

3. Six Degrees of Separation

Talk about star power! One of DeVito’s relatives in Neptune, New Jersey, once co-owned a hair salon with someone related to Jack Nicholson—another kid from the neighborhood.

4. He Brought Babies to the Oscars

Danny DeVito was caught on camera in something of an awkward situation during the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. He had brought his own baby carrots and was munching on them! Steve Martin was hosting that year, and he surprised DeVito in the middle of the show with a bowl of ranch dip.

Danny DeVito FactsGetty Images

5. Wee and Mighty

DeVito was considered for the role of Detective John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop, but producers went with the more obvious, beefier, action hero choice—Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, the two would go on to co-star in the hugely successful comedy Twins.

6. Original Artwork

One of the funniest and most financially successful movie comedies that Danny DeVito starred in was Twins, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie was made on a shoestring budget, and deals were so hastily agreed upon that one signed agreement got captured on a napkin. DeVito not only kept the napkin, but he also had it framed.

7. Take a Rain Check

The budget for Twins was so tight that DeVito, Schwarzenegger, and the film’s director agreed to profit-sharing instead of outright salaries. The risk paid off! The movie was such a commercial success, the stars and the director scored considerably more bank through profit-sharing.

8. Could Have Been Costanza

In what could’ve been a really strange alternate timeline, Danny DeVito was once considered for the George Costanza role on Seinfeld.

9. He’s One of Dems

Danny DeVito is a steadfast supporter of the United States Democratic Party. Since 2016, he’s become even more outspoken about his political views—that was the year he first supported Bernie Sanders for President, which he’s done again in 2020. If only he had white hair like Larry David, he could get a plum gig impersonating the Senator.

Danny DeVito FactsGetty Images

10. Passing Gas

Danny DeVito proudly drives a 100% electric car, telling interviewers he hasn’t “been to a gas station in a year. Plug it in, and that’s it.”

11. One Lucky Liu

Actress Lucy Liu met DeVito through his former wife Rhea Perlman, and she remains close friends with him. Liu has described spending Thanksgivings and birthdays with the former couple, saying DeVito knows “how to celebrate life,” and he doesn’t “waste time being depressed about anything.”

12. The Odd Couple

DeVito’s “best friend” of over 50 years is none other than Michael Douglas. They were both struggling actors when they met in 1966, and they shared a Manhattan apartment that cost them $75 each per month in rent!

13. Extraordinarily Cuckoo

Michael Douglas, son of fellow screen legend Kirk Douglas, produced the 1975 Oscar-winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but the screenplay took years to get off the ground. DeVito was appearing in an off-Broadway version of the play, and Douglas suggested DeVito to the film’s director. DeVito ended up being the first actor cast in the movie.

Douglas has called DeVito’s performance “extraordinary.”

14. A Bromance Novel

DeVito and Douglas were friends for 20 years before they finally acted together onscreen in the 80s classic Romancing the Stone. Douglas also produced the film, and he gave DeVito star billing above the movie’s title. As DeVito admitted later, the gesture was a “big, big thing.”

15. Lean on Me

Romancing the Stone was a box office hit, so a sequel was hastily developed to further cash in on its massive success. Unfortunately, the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, was plagued by disaster. A plane crash claimed six members of the crew during filming, and dysentery wreaked havoc on the film too. Decades later, Douglas spoke of being “so grateful for this guy,” referring to how often he leaned on DeVito for support during the ill-fated production.

16. Little Ricky

DeVito is keen on quirky, mildly offensive, no-holds-barred British humor, and counts comedian Ricky Gervais as a favorite. DeVito also adored Benny Hill back in the day, as well as the antics of the Monty Python troupe.

17. Unsafety First

DeVito’s motto is “it’s fun to be on the edge.” He believes his life’s best work has happened when he took chances and was “not safe.”

18. His World Was a Garden

Danny DeVito speaks so fondly of growing up in New Jersey, it really is like picturing it as the Garden State, instead of something grittier like The Sopranos. DeVito says that “Jersey is always with me,” and that he “was one of the lucky ones.” DeVito has said that Jersey’s Asbury Park area was just “the greatest place in the world to spend your childhood.”

That area is actually also famous for spawning the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen.

19. Garden State DNA

DeVito says he’s been infused with “the Jersey gene.” What does that mean? He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s got great pride in his birthplace.

20. Times Got Tough

When DeVito reached his teenage years, his Asbury Park neighborhood hit a rough patch, and some of his friends got into some real dangerous stuff. Worried about their son’s path in life, DeVito’s parents enrolled him in a boarding school, Oratory Prep, located in Summit, New Jersey.

21. There Goes Trouble

Sounds like DeVito’s parents were justified in worrying he’d get into trouble around the neighborhood. DeVito confessed later just how bad it was. “What we were doing in those days were stolen pharmaceuticals,” DeVito explained in an interview. “Though you could be tempted with [smack], I wasn’t. And it was mainly [pure] then, there wasn’t crack or anything when I was a kid. You went straight to skin-popping and mainlining.”

22. Working the System

Enrolling DeVito in boarding school may have saved him from a gangster life, but he still managed to be a bratty teenager. Being driven to his boarding school on a Sunday night, DeVito has said, “we’d stop for pizza. We could smoke. We could do anything that we couldn’t do when we were around our parents. We all made it work.”

23. Move Over, Jersey Gene

DeVito’s effusive, people-loving personality can dominate any room, and he never let his small stature affect his confidence. DeVito’s height results from multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED), a genetic condition that affects bone growth.

24. What’s Not to Like?

Danny DeVito has no qualms admitting how “self-centered” he is. “I just adore myself,” DeVito has said. Who can blame him?

25. Just a Gigolo

Danny DeVito admittedly loves women. Where the ladies are concerned, he’s confessed that he “used to get in all kinds of trouble.”

26. Female Friendly

DeVito also explained that his attraction to women is “not only in a sexual way, which I enjoy.” He’s lovingly described his two older sisters as “really tough broads,” and he grew up feeling comfortable around strong women, enjoying their company and conversation.

27. A Styling Dude

Before he even entertained becoming an actor, DeVito and his sister both trained as hairstylists. He remembers that time very fondly. “I was thrust into a bevy of beauties every day and I was one of the straight ones.” DeVito joked in an interview.

28. Standing Tall

Danny DeVito never viewed his height as a disadvantage. As DeVito stated in an interview, casting people would say, “We’ve seen 20 actors for the role of the servant in The Merry Wives of Windsor, but wait a minute, we’ve done this already with this guy, so let’s try this Danny guy.”

29. The Fortunate One

Danny DeVito feels very fortunate in his life. He’s said, “I have had a lot of happiness. I have a great family and I work a lot, and that’s what I like to do.”

30. Feet First

For every internet troll creating misery online, DeVito could silence them all with his #Trollfoot! DeVito believes in the power—better yet, the humor—of social media. He have been Twitter sensations for years, and DeVito says, “when I see a picture that I really want Troll Foot to be in, I put him out.” 4.1 million followers on DeVito’s Twitter account agree, and he regularly posts pics with “tweets of wisdom” like “Trollfoot wishes you kindness babies, kindness.”

31. Their Doomsday Calendar

After being together for 40 years and married for over 30 years, celebrated actress Rhea Perlman and DeVito formally separated for the first time in 2012. DeVito has certainly alluded to his “love for women,” and sadly, many say that this was a contributing factor in their split.

32. Lust at First Sight

DeVito and Perlman met in 1971, and she confessed it was an instant attraction for her! She’d gone to an off-Broadway play to see a friend in the cast, but she couldn’t take her eyes off DeVito, who was playing a “demented stable boy,” according to Perlman. I can only imagine what that entailed.

33. No Shrinking Violet

The off-Broadway play where Rhea Perlman first saw Danny DeVito was The Shrinking Bride, and Perlman was no shrinking violet either. She asked a friend who also appeared in the play if DeVito had a girlfriend. When the friend said no, Perlman wanted to meet him immediately. They all went out for dinner after the show.

Perlman did her fair share when it came to making it happen—she said she “came on to (DeVito) big time!”

34. Made in Manhattan

Only weeks after first meeting DeVito, Perlman left her Brooklyn neighborhood and moved into his Manhattan apartment. “I thought I hit the big time,” she says. “It was always my goal to live in Manhattan. I never thought of going to L.A.!”

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35. The Food of Life

Danny DeVito has tipped the scales as high as 160 lbs. But who’s counting? DeVito has no shame for his love of food, admitting his life revolves around it.

36. Everybody Loves Some Money Sometimes

DeVito’s net worth is approximately $90 million. He’s actually joked about his big pockets, saying “everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.” Does Sanders know?

37. The Producer

Danny DeVito founded a production company called Jersey Films, and he has many successful film productions under his belt. One of his notable achievements was producing the film Erin Brockovich, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Picture.

38. Changing Direction

DeVito has been successful behind the camera too. He directed a number of films, including The War of the Roses, starring his old pal friend Michael Douglas.

39. The Family Business

DeVito and Perlman have three grown kids, Lucy (born in 1983), Grace (born in 1985), and Jacob (born in 1987). An actress, Lucy has appeared on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Grace works as a producer, and Jacob has dabbled in both acting and production.

40. Philadelphia Freedom

Few fans know it, but DeVito saved the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. After just six episodes on FX, critics were blasé about the comedy, and viewers weren’t responding. DeVito knew the head of FX, who arranged a meeting between DeVito and cast member Rob McElhenney, who plays Mac. An additional layer of good karma came from DeVito’s kids, who were fans of the fledging, floundering show from the start. DeVito agreed to take on the Frank Reynolds role, and helped boost the show.

41. It Got Dark

Danny DeVito experienced a dark moment filming Season 11 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A scene called for the primary cast members to hold hands underwater. It was harder for DeVito to sink, so the crew weighted him down. After filming finished, the other cast members rose to the surface. Still , DeVito remained frantically submerged. Safety divers rescued him, but the life-threatening experience shook DeVito.

42. No Limits

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has a “zero scruples” mentality, which suits DeVito’s penchant for political incorrectness just fine. “We want to dial it up!” Danny DeVito has said of the series. He reflected that there “are limits, I guess,” before he joked, “What are they?”

43. Mark Your Calendars

In 2018, the mayor of Asbury Park announced that November 17 of every year would be“Danny DeVito Day” in the town. DeVito is the first resident in Asbury’s history to receive this honor. What, no Springsteen day?

44. Where’s His Sandcastle

DeVito said he loved the idea of Danny DeVito Day in Asbury Park. Joking or not, DeVito also said, “of course, they first told me I could have a beach. Yeah, but they reneged…I said, ‘Oh, that’s perfect. It’s (so) New Jersey.’”

45. Defying Her Biological Clock

DeVito’s mom was 40 years old when he was born in 1944. Doctors considered her well past reproduction age, and she defied the odds to have DeVito, which seems very fitting indeed. DeVito has cracked, “they weren’t sure if I was a baby or a tumor.”

46. Forewarned by Jack and Mike

Long before Frank Reynolds started polluting our TV screens (in the best way!), DeVito’s fame skyrocketed as loveable slime-bag Louie De Palma on the hit 70s show Taxi. DeVito admitted in later interviews that his buddies, Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson, both warned him in the 70s not to do television because they thought “it uses you up.”

DeVito shrugged off the warnings. In his common-sense opinion, “they could say that—they were big rich movie stars!”

47. Bring out the Trash

While his movie star buddies Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas spurned on television roles in the 70s, DeVito was excited when he read the pilot script for Taxi. He loved the script so much that he took a big leap of faith, barreling into his audition and trash-talking like the Louie De Palma character, a role he won handily.

48. Louie Louie

DeVito’s audition for the Louie De Palma role on Taxi was risky and outrageous, but it certainly paid off. DeVito barreled into his audition to face an unsuspecting production team. He tossed the script onto the table and bellowed, “one thing I wanna know before we start—who wrote this (expletive)?!” They not only laughed at DeVito’s stunning entrance, but they also guffawed at every wisecrack he made after that.

49. Surprise! It’s Triplets

Since 2012, the entertainment rumor mill has been churning out speculation that a sequel to the DeVito-Schwarzenegger classic Twins would eventually be spawned. Rumors like this don’t die, especially when you run the numbers on the original. Twins came in on a paltry budget of $18 million, and it racked up approximately $217 million—a highly impressive box office for a movie 30 years ago.

50. Modern Family

By 2019, the script for Triplets was a confirmed go, and it’s going to feature a thoroughly modern twist. As DeVito has explained, “one of the ideas that was floated around was Eddie Murphy. So it would be Arnold and Eddie and I…in Twins there was a cocktail, we mixed it together, and then you wound up with these two gene pools, Arnold and I. It was a strange little movie. We figured you could probably have another portion of that cocktail turn into somebody else.”

DeVito, Schwarzenegger, and Murphy? Can’t wait for that one!

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

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