With a career that spanned several decades, Dolphy made his mark with a variety of memorable roles on stage, radio, television, and movies. The Philippines’ undisputed ‘King of Comedy’ made us laugh, cry, and feel everything in between with his unique comic style that managed to touch every Pinoy’s heart through the years. From his humble beginnings selling peanuts and “butong pakwan” in movie theaters as young boy, Dolphy was able to watch movies for free and he ended up discovering the world of performing arts with which he instantly fell in love. His teen life was spent doing many odd jobs which did not distract him from pursuing his love for the acting.
Performing on stage as chorus member when he was 17, Dolphy finally got into movies at the age of 19 with the help of Fernando Poe Sr. who gave him his first break playing bit roles in various films. With more than 200 films to his name, the Comedy King managed to give justice to each and every role he was given. Here are just some of the most memorable characters he has played through the years.
Dolphy started off his career in ABS-CBN by starring in the 1960s TV show Buhay Artista which was conceptualized by Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr. and Ading Fernando and also starred Susan Roces and Panchito. He also co-produced the same show with his own RVQ Productions. This led to a Kapamilya career that lasted more than four decades.
This started off his television career which then led him to one of his most famous roles as John Puruntong in the John En Marsha, which made the Puruntongs the most beloved TV family with this long-running comedy series which laws aired every week from the 1970s up until 1990 and had 405 episodes on RPN9. Since the public couldn’t get enough of the endearing antics of John Puruntong, ABS-CBN brought it back with a spin-off featuring Dolphy and Maricel Soriano in 1996 with John En Shirley.
RVQ Productions also produced nine movies of the John En Marsha franchise which made the Puruntong family feel like they were more like real relatives than just fictional characters as audiences watched hilarious scenes of John being berated by his ever domineering mother-in-law Doña Delilah with the classic line,“Magsumikap Ka!” and John and Marsha trying to raise their children Rolly, Shirley, and John-John (played respectively by Dolphy’s real-life son Rolly, Maricel Soriano, and Atong Redillas). For John En Marsha, Dolphy won Best Comedy Actor in the PMPC Star Awards for TV for several years.
Proving his versatility and open-mindedness as an actor, Dolphy boldly took on many gay roles which never became an issue off-screen. His first screen “outing” was in 1954 in Jack En Jill where he played the role of Gorio, a gay brother who gets mistaken for a girl and becomes adopted by a rich family. This role was reprised by Herbert Bautista in the 1987 remake along with Sharon Cuneta. Dolphy also made a mark with his roles in Facifica Falayfay in 1969 and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay in 1978 which earned him a Best Actor nomination in both the Gawad Urian and FAMAS awards the following year. In the latter film, Dolphy plays the role of Coring, a gay beautician who is left to play the role of both mother and father in order to raise the son of his former lover.
Another landmark gay role that Dolphy took on along with his sons Eric and Epy Quizon was the 2001 movie Markova: Comfort Gay wherein they all played the same character in three stages of life. This role won them the Prix de la Meilleure Interpretation (equivalent to a Best Actor award) in Brussels, Belgium playing transvestite Walterina Markova.
On television, Dolphy made Kevin Cosme a household name in ABS-CBN’s hit series Home Along Da Riles for more than a decade. The sitcom, which ran from 1992-2003, revolved around the life of single parent Kevin and his five children who live in a small house alongside the railroad track. Just like his character on the show, Dolphy was a kind, humble, and positive character who continued to persevere despite the challenges brought on daily living. Kevin Cosme and family became so popular that it also spawned shows like Home Along Da Riber (2002) and Home Along Da Airport (2003) on ABS-CBN. Star Cinema also made two movies from the franchise called Home Along Da Riles (1993) and Home Along Da Riles Part 2 (1997).
The Comedy King’s last movie outing was in the comedy Father Jejemon wherein Dolphy played the title role in RVQ Productions’ entry to the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival. In the film, Dolphy played the role of an unconventional priest who makes it his mission to help a small provincial town. This role earned Dolphy Best Actor awards from both the Metro Manila Film Festival and the Film Academy of the Philippines.
With his passing, Dolphy has left a void felt by Filipinos here and abroad. But despite the industry’s loss, his works will continue to entertain everyone in and outside the entertainment industry.
Relieve the music of Dolphy :
Handog Ni Pidol (A Lifetime of Music and Laughter) - Doplhy
The Best of Dolphy and Panchito - Dolphy & Panchito
Remembering Dolphy through his most memorable roles on TV and in film
King of Comedy Dolphy proved his versatility by bringing to life many lovable characters.