The Comedy King is dead. Long live the Comedy King!
It was curtain call for Dolphy who died at 8:34 last night at the ICU of the Makati Medical Center (MCC), where he was confined for more than three weeks for pneumonia.
He would have turned 84 on July 25.
Dr. Jake Marte, assistant patient relations officer of MMC, said, “Mr. Rodolfo ‘Dolphy’ Quizon passed away due to multiple organ failure brought about by severe pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute renal failure.”
He died surrounded by members of his family, some of whom had just arrived from abroad.
Dolphy is survived by 18 children and Zsa Zsa Padilla, whom he described as “the last woman in my life.” He had wanted very much to marry her but failed due to legal impediments. He died a bachelor.
Even if he was not conferred the honor as National Artist, notwithstanding his great contribution to the entertainment industry, Dolphy left behind a legacy of laughter that has influenced generations of Filipinos during a colorful career that spanned more than half a century and that covered the stage, radio, television and film.
Since two years ago when news about his illness was first reported, Dolphy had been in and out of the hospital due to recurrent pneumonia that struck him for the 12th time while he was at the Makati Med ICU. Years ago, he underwent a quadruple heart bypass.
Every now and then, rumors would spread that he had died, which he took with his characteristic sense of humor, saying he should not be rushed: “Bakit n’yo ako inaapura? Darating din ako d’yan. Huwag n’yo akong apurahin.”
A sadness would appear across his face when, during interviews, names of his contemporaries such as his teammate Panchito, Chiquito and other comedians were mentioned. “Wala na silang lahat; ako na lang ang natirira (They’re all gone; I’m the only one left).”
He often repeated the line, “Mamatay man ako at mabuhay muli, mag-aartista pa rin ako (Even if I die and live again, I will still be an actor.)”
His exposure to show biz began inside a theater where he sold peanuts and watermelon seeds.
He was 13 when World War II broke out. He helped the family make ends meet by doing odd jobs like shining shoes, attaching buttons at a pants factory, stevedoring at the pier and driving a horse-drawn buggy. He passed his free time watching his idols Pugo and Togo (for comedy) and Benny Mack and Bayani Casimiro (for dance) in stage shows at the Life Theater and Avenue Theater, both of which have been demolished.
He started as a stage performer during the Japanese occupation when Benny Mack got him as a chorus dancer, alternating between Life and Avenue, using the stage name Golay, later changed to Dolphy.
At 19, he did his first movie, “Dugo At Bayan (I Remember Bataan),” with Fernando Poe Sr., who first gave Dolphy breaks as a character actor.
In the late 1940s, Dolphy ventured into radio with the help of Conde Ubaldo, a popular radio writer, joining Pacho Magalona, Tessie Quintana and Baby Jane. It was Pancho, father of the late Francis Magalona, who recommended Dolphy to Starmaker Dr. Jose R. Perez of Sampaguita Pictures where Dolphy was groomed as a comedian initially playing gay characters (“Jack en Jill,” etc.) that he continued to portray in movies that he produced under his own company RVQ Productions, including such classics as “Facifica Falayfay,” “Fefita Fofonggay” and “Karioka Etchos de Amerika.”
But he would bag as FAMAS Best Actor not for a gay character but for a dual role depicting good and evil in “Omeng Satanasia.”
He is best remembered for the long-running TV show “Buhay Artista” (with Panchito) and “John en Marsha” with Nida Blanca as his with in an inspiring story about a poor yet happy family. The TV show was made into movies, just like “Home Along da Riles,” the show that followed it.
Dolphy was the only actor who won both Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the Brussels International Film Festival for playing a comfort gay in “Markova” in which he appeared with his sons Eric and Epi. Two years ago, he won Best Supporting Actor for a relatively brief role in “Rosario” at the Manila Filmfest. His last movie was “Father Jejemon,” also shown at a Manila Filmfest, which stirred a minor controversy because of a communion scene that the church found offensive.
“I’m a devout Catholic and I will never do anything that will displease the church,” said Dolphy who decided to remove that scene.
When he turned 80, Dolphy had his biography released, titled “Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa,” written by Bibeth Orteza, coinciding with the launch of the Dolphy Aid Para sa Pinoy Foundation, Inc., a non-profit and non-stock organization .
In one of his last long interviews with The STAR two years ago, done at his home while he attached to an oxygen tank, Dolphy said when asked what he was proud of as an actor, “I’m proud of what I have achieved. Palagay ko maski mamatay ako at nabuhay uli, I will still love to be an actor. My life as an actor is full of happiness. Ang dami ko na ring awards.”