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Joseph Bologna Dead: ‘My Favorite Year’ Star Dies at 82

Joseph Bologna died on Sunday, August 13, after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

Joseph Bologna
Joseph Bologna attends the “Immigrant” Film Premiere at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 on October 25, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Rachel Murray/

The actor and director, who was known for his role as King Kaiser in 1982’s My Favorite Year, is survived by his wife of 52 years, actress and screenwriter Renee Taylor. The couple celebrated their wedding anniversary on Friday, just two days before his passing.

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Joseph Bologna Mixed Company
Joseph Bologna on set of “Mixed Company” in 1974. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Brooklyn, New York, native was able to attend a 35th anniversary celebration for the beloved film on July 27.

“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,” Taylor said in a statement, via Entertainment Weekly. “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 spent much of his career working alongside his wife, with whom he wrote 22 plays, the 1971 hit film Made for Each Other, as well as 1996’s Love Is All There Is, which marked one of Angelina Jolie’s first roles in a feature film.

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Bologna and Taylor won an Emmy award for writing Marlo Thomas TV special Acts of Love and Other Comedies. The late multihyphenate, who was nominated for an Oscar for 1970’s Love and Other Strangers, also acted in a variety of television roles, including Top of the Heap and Rags to Riches.

Bologna’s final piece of work, which he wrote and starred in, is Tango Shalom, which is currently in post production. The film costars Taylor and Karina Smirnoff, while Bologna’s daughter, Zizi, serves as the music supervisor and his son, Gabriel, directed it. 

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