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Danny DeVito’s First Movie Role

On August 16, 1970, Universal Pictures released a new motion picture entitled Dreams of Glass, which was written, directed, and produced by Robert Clouse (1928–1997), most famous for directing some of Bruce Lee’s greatest films, including Entering the Dragon (1973) and Game of Death (1978).

Editor’s note: The poster for Danny DeVito’s first film pictured above…since he is neither mentioned, nor are photos available, we have inserted him into this poster since he’s the most memorable thing about this movie.

According to a review in The New York Times, Dreams of Glass was a mostly forgettable film.  That judgment has stood the test of time, as this movie does not seem to exist anywhere, in any format; nor are there more than a handful of images from it. 

But the movie is noteworthy for one thing, a minor character who appears only in the film’s ending.  Two young lovers of different races have defied society’s disapproval and found love; they find an abandoned warehouse and turn it into a love nest, but their private lair is invaded by “savage hoodlums,” and, well, what happens next was, according to reviewers, not worth mentioning, but one of those hoodlums was none other than Danny DeVito, in the role of “Thug,” his first film and his first acting credit.

Prior to this, DeVito – born in Neptune City and raised in Asbury Park – had only found work in Hollywood providing the voice for the red M&M in a TV commercial.  Afterwards, he had small roles in films in 1971 (Lady Liberty, with Sophia Loren!), 1972 (Hot Dogs for Gauguin, a short film by Martin Brest that also starred Rhea Perlman, who would later become Danny’s wife), and two mostly forgotten films in 1973 before landing the role of a lifetime, along fellow Monmouth County native Jack Nicholson, in the iconic 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  From there, DeVito’s career took off, currently with 143 acting credits and dozens more for producing, directing, writing, and even his vocal performances.  In 2001, he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor in the film that ultimately won best picture, Erin Brockovich. DeVito has been nominated for countless awards and ranks as one of America’s perhaps least likely, but most successful, leading men of entertainment. 

Sources:

Dreams of Glass. (1970). IMDB.com. Available: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000362/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Thompson, Howard. (1970). Film: Reality Stalks Young Innocents. The New York Times, Aug. 17, 1970, P. 33.

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