While Joseph Bologna might be most recognized for his work on-screen, he was also an award-winning writer off-screen. Bologna died on Sunday after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Bologna got his start in show business working as a producer and director of Manhattan-based TV commercials while writing plays with his wife, Renee Taylor. One of these plays, Lovers and Other Strangers, acted as the pair’s Hollywood break when it was adapted into a 1970 movie starring Gig Young, Bonnie Bedelia, and, in her film debut, Diane Keaton. Bologna and Taylor wrote the screenplay for the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The pair would write Made For Each Other the next year, this time starring in the film as well.
The couple would work on numerous projects together of the years, and would win a Primetime Emmy for writing the 1973 ABC anthology, Acts of Love and Other Comedies.
Bologna would act away from Taylor as well. In 1976, he would play the lead in The Big Bus, a parody of disaster movies that would act as a precursor to Airplane! four years later.
In 1982, Bologna was cast as King Kaiser, a character loosely based on Sid Caesar, in My Favorite Year, a film produced by Mel Brooks and inspired by his time writing for Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. This led to a brief boost in Bologna’s career, leading to roles in 1984’s Blame It On Rio and The Woman In Red & 1985’s Transylvania-6500.
Bologna’s final film role with be in Tango Shalom, a film he co-wrote with Claudio and Jos Laniado. The film is directed by his son, Gabriel, and will mark his last on-screen pairing with his wife. The film is in post-production.