MANILA, Philippines—Actor-comedian Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon died Tuesday night, his son told reporters.
Eric Quizon, who has acted as spokesman for the family, said Dolphy left at 8:34 p.m. following a cardiac arrest.
“He lived a full life. He is at rest. He is at peace,” said Quizon hours after news of his father first broke on the social media network Twitter.
Quizon said his father “knew as he was going how much the country loved him and knew that everyone was praying for him”.
“If he could he would have stayed so just he could thank you personally,” said Quizon of Dolphy who has been confined at the Makati Medical Center since June 9 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Quizon said that while his father’s “spirit was strong his body has so weakened he had to go”.
“On behalf of everyone who loved him — my brothers, sisters, Zsa Zsa [Padilla], we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Quizon.
He asked that the people “pray for his [father’s] eternal repose”.
Quizon said that “heaven would be a happier place with him there”.
He said, however, that “for us whom he has left behind, comedy is dead but long live comedy”.
Dolphy, known in Philippine entertainment as the “Comedy King”, is survived by common law wife and actress-singer Zsa Zsa Padilla and 18 children.
‘Humble, honest, and helpful’
President Benigno Aquino led the nation in paying tribute to Dolphy, calling him the embodiment of the “humble, honest, and helpful” Filipino, who made life easier for his friends and followers in the face of daunting challenges.
“He changed not just his industry, but also the national consciousness,” Aquino said in a statement.
“Through his art, he widened our outlook, he gave us the power to find and cherish happiness in our daily lives.”
‘King of Comedy’
Dolphy was widely regarded as the country’s “King of Comedy” in a career that spanned seven decades playing colorful comedic roles, from a cross-dressing homosexual to a poor jack of all trades.
His passing was announced by ABS-CBN television, which aired his hit sitcom “Home Along Da Riles” in the 1990s about a poor widower struggling to raise his children in the slums.
ABS-CBN said Dolphy’s passing was confirmed by his partner Zsa Zsa Padilla, an actress also employed by the station, and other relatives.
Dolphy made millions laugh even during the Philippines’ darkest moments, including the brutal 20-year rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, which ended in 1986.
In the 1970s sitcom “John & Marsha,” he played the poor husband to a rich wife, who poked fun at his loud-mouthed mother-in-law, giving comedic relief during Marcos’ martial law regime that left thousands dead and missing.
It was a slapstick brand of comedy that steered clear of politics or criticism of Marcos.
The show was so popular that it was revived in the form of at least eight movies over the last two decades, introducing younger generations to Filipino humor.
Bob Hope of Philippines
Movie critics branded Dolphy the Bob Hope of the Philippines, and his philanthropic work helping the poor and unemployed actors was also well known.
Politicians looking to exploit Dolphy’s mass appeal for years unsuccessfully tried to lure him into running for public office.
Social media tributes
News of Dolphy’s death sent shockwaves across social networking sites, with many of his fans and colleagues paying tribute to him.
“RIP Dolphy. Kevin Cosme really gave so much laughter to my childhood,” tweeted Andreo Calonzo, referring to one of Dolphy’s most memorable television characters.
Former president Joseph Estrada, an ex-movie action star and a long-time friend of Dolphy, said he joined millions in mourning for a “national artist.”
“His memory will live forever. He was the kindest, funniest, most helpful man I know,” Estrada told AFP.
“He made life bearable for the masses, and his roles sympathized with the plight of the millions of poor Filipinos.”
Movie industry icon
While he never married, Dolphy was a known ladies’ man who fathered at least 17 children with various women, some of whom also went on to enter the showbiz industry.
President Aquino rallied Filipinos while Dolphy was on his death bed, calling the actor a “revered icon of the Philippine movie industry”.
A heart bypass 15 years ago had left him perennially weak. With a report Agence France-Presse