From stage to radio and from TV to film, Dolphy has done it all.
Born Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr. on July 25, 1928, he began his career as a dancer and chorus boy at the Avenue and Lyric Theaters, where he took on the name “Golay.” He reverted to his given name when he was discovered by Fernando Poe Sr., which led to Dolphy’s first movie “Dugo ay Bayan,” which he made when he was only 19.
What emerged from that small role was a career that spanned more than 60 years.
Here are 10 of his most memorable works:
1. Jack and Jill (1954)
What's it about: In this movie version of Mars Ravelo's komiks novel, Dolphy plays Gorio, the gay brother of the tomboy Benita (Lolita Rodriguez), who drives a jeepney. When their father dies, Benita pretends to be a boy to get a job, while Gorio, disguised a girl, is "adopted" by a rich family.
Why it matters: "Jack and Jill," produced by Sampaguita Pictures, established Dolphy as a movie actor.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: Dolphy admitted he wasn't the first choice to play the role. "Hindi ko alam na ayaw ni Mars sa akin. Nalaman ko na lang dahil no'ng mag-showing na ang pelikula, sumulat: 'I apologize for underestimated your ability,'" he recalled in his biography, "Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa."
"Hindi rin ako nahirapang mag-prepare sa role ng bakla. Bukod sa marami akong nakikita, mayro'n akong mga uncle na gano'n, magkakabarkada sila," Dolphy added. "May nanligaw rin sa aking bakla, hindi naman mawawala iyon. No'ng panahon ng Hapon, mayro'ng bigay ng bigay ng kung anu-ano. Ako naman, tanggap ng tanggap."
2. Kalabog en Bosyo (1959)
What's it about: Based on Larry Alcala's long-running comic strip, which first appeared on Pilipino Komiks in 1947, "Kalabog en Bosyo" tells of the many misadventures of two bumbling detectives, played by Dolphy and Panchito.
Why it matters: "Kalabog en Bosyo" marked the first movie team-up of Dolphy and Panchito.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: Dolphy said he first met Panchito when he was still working on stage and the two also worked on radio. While Dolphy was already doing comedy at the time, Panchito started in drama.
"Niyaya ko si Panchito, 'Mas maganda itong mag-comedy ka. Iwan mo na iyang mga drama. Puro ka naman role ng tatay na namamatay, at kung anu-ano. Dito tayo, mas may pera dito," Dolphy said, adding that he asked Panchito be the "feeder" in their act.
"Walang tatalo sa timing ni Panchito na mag-feed. Iba ang bitiw niya," he said.
3. Captain Barbell (1964)
What's it about: The Pinoy superhero, who first appeared in Pinoy Komiks in 1963, was created by Mars Ravelo, who also created the female superhero Darna. Dolphy plays the superhero's alter-ego Tenteng, a thin, weakling and asthmatic person whose only dream was to become strong and muscular.
Why it matters: This film saw the collaboration of Dolphy and lifelong colleague, Fernando Poe Jr., who produced the film under his own D'Lanor Productions.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: "Kinuha niya (FPJ) ako sa D'Lanor, sa dalawang magkasunod na pelikula in 1964, parehong directed by Herminio 'Butch' Bautista, na tatay ni Herbert, at dati ring kasama ni Ronnie (Poe) at Erap (Estrada) sa 'Lo Waist Gang,'" Dolphy said.
"Sa 'Captain Barbell,' as Enteng, nakasuot ako ng mahabang sando na maluwang, nakalawit ang pinaka-tirante. Pag binubuhat ko ang barbell at sinisigaw ko ang 'Captain Barbell' nagiging si Bob Soler na ako. Kumita iyon."
4. Buhay Artista (1967)
What's it about: The comic tandem of Dolphy and Panchito headlined "Buhay Artista," one of the top-rating TV shows in the '60s. A Sunday evening treat for the whole family, telecast over Channel 3, from 7:30 t0 8:30 p.m., it dealt with the lives of ordinary people in various professions. A movie based on the TV show was later made in 1967.
Why it matters: The TV series of the same name marked the beginning of Dolphy's long affiliation with ABS-CBN, while the movie of the same name was the first movie produced by Dolphy's own RVQ Productions.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: "No'ng itatayo ko na ang RVQ Productions, nagpaalam ako sa kanya (ABS-CBN's Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr.) na balak ko sanang gawing movie yung show as my initial offering at kung puwede akin ang rights. Ang bilis ng sagot niya,'Sige, iyo naman talaga iyon.' Iba siyang kausap."
5. Facifica Falayfay (1969)
What's it about: Directed by Luciano "Chaning" Carlos, the movie is about a boy, Pacifico, who was raised as a girl. Film critic Noel Vera wrote: "Dolphy makes a grand entrance, sashaying down a staircase in a see-through raincoat over bikini underwear, and not once looks back -- it's a horrifyingly hilarious performance full of slapstick, cheap humor and about a hundred costume changes, each more outrageous than the next."
Why it matters: "Facifica Falayfay" was among Dolphy's highest-grossing films of all time. It also spawned several sequels, including "Fefita Fofongay vda de Falayfay."
Dolphy's recollection of the film: "Overwhelming ang box-office results ng 'Falayfay.' Top grosser na kami, na-extend pa ang showing, kahit tapos na ang festival, sa Rialto. Na-bad trip lang ako, dahil top grosser, bibigyan ka ng parangal. Kamala-mala mo, sabi no'ng babaeng judge -- huwag na lang banggitin ang pangalan -- sa mikropono ha, na talagang dinig ng lahat, huwag na raw ako uling gumawa ng gano'ng pelikula tungkol sa mga bakla," Dolphy recalled.
"Nagpanting ako. Hindi ko siya binastos nang harapan, at may edad na. Pagdating ko sa kotse, hinagis ko 'yung trophy, pinasosoli ko kay Mayor (Antonio) Villegas. Tinawagan ako ni Yeba -- expression niya 'yon kaya naging nickname na rin -- huwag na raw akong magtampo, tanggapin ko na lang daw uli ang trophy, alang-alang sa kanya."
6. Tayo'y Mag-Up and Away (1970)
What's it about: Dolphy's collaboration with Chaning Carlos continued with this entry to the 1970 Manila Film Festival, where it emerged as the top-grosser. The movie features his then-girlfriend Pilar Pilapil, Nida Blanca, Ricky Belmonte and Panchito.
Why it matters: Dolphy was among the first actors who would shoot movies in foreign locations. This one was filmed entirely in Rome, Paris, London, New York, Las Vegas and Hawaii.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: Shooting a scene in Rome, Dolphy and Belmonte were supposed to wash their underwear in a public fountain. The scene called for them to be arrested by the police.
"May kausap kaming dalawang mobile police, babayaran namin ng tifpi-50 dollars. Kunwari, huhulihin kami. E take two si direk Chaning," he recalled.
"Naku! Ibang pulis na'ng lumapit sa amin, hindi na 'yong naka-mobile, pinaka-kapitan na siguro. Si Ricky, takot na takot. Binubulungan ko na tumuloy-tuloy lang, kahit na ba hinuhuli kami, e talaga namang kailangan kaming hulihin sa eksena.
"Sa madaling salita, nakunan ang eksena. Kinumpiska and camera, pinabigay ko 'yong walang laman; ang nakunan, pinatago ko. Pina-claim sa amin ang camera sa estasyon ng pulis. ... Walang kamalay-malay si Kap na ang eksena niya ang ginamit namin sa final print ng sine."
7. John en Marsha (1971)
What's it about: With Nida Blanca as his wife and a young Maricel Soriano as his daughter, this sitcom followed the struggles of a poor man working hard for his family while enduring the contempt of his condescending mother-in-law (Dely Atay-atayan).
Why it matters: For many showbiz historians, Dolphy’s biggest triumph was this multi-awarded sitcom, which premiered in 1971 and ran for 15 successful years. It also spawned eight movies.
Dolphy's recollection of the TV show: "Sa ABS pa lang naisip na ni Ading (Fernando) na pagsamahin kami ni Nida (Blanca) sa TV. This was mga late '71, bago pa mag-Martial Law. Palagi niyang sinasabi na, Si Nida parang Dolphy na babae, bagay na bagay kayong dalawa," he said.
But when ABS-CBN was closed with the declaration of Martial Law, Dolphy's long-time collaborator Ading Fernando looked for another producer.
"Ang working title, parang something like 'Walang Tiyaga, Walang Nilaga.' Medyo nag-react ako. Para kakong sinauna pang title 'yon. Hanggang sa nakarating kami sa 'John en Marsha,'" he recalled. "Ang taas ng ratings! Maganda ang response sa lambingan namin ni Nida. Pati si Matutina, click. Lalo na ang punchline ni Dona Delilah G. Jones: 'Kaya ikaw John, magsumikap ka...'
8. Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (1978)
What's it about: Coring (Dolphy) is a cross-dressing gay man who is forced to raise Nonoy (played by Niño Muhlach) after the child was abandoned by his father to join the U.S. Navy. At first, he tries to hide his sexuality from the boy, who later discovers Coring in drag. Coring eventually agrees to give Nonoy back to his real mother but soon realizes his mistake -- during a gay beauty pageant, no less.
Why it matters: This highly-acclaimed film marked the rare dramatic collaboration between Dolphy and National Artist for Film Lino Brocka. It also featured then "child wonder" Niño Muhlach.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: "Kinausap ako ni Orlando Nadres ..."Dolphs, mayro'n akong istorya para sa iyo, talagang sa iyo lang babagay. Gusto ko, ikaw ang gumawa. Gustung-gusto rin 'to ni Lino Brocka.'"
"'So sige,' kako, 'basahin ko muna.' Aba, maganda nga. 'Sigurado ba kayo?' tanong ko. 'Drama 'to, iyakan, hindi comedy.'"
Dolphy, who had just won his first FAMAS Best Actor award for his dual role in "Omeng Satanasia" the year before, agreed to do the film.
"Hindi man ako nanalo for it no'ng bigayan uli ng awards next year, nakatrabaho ko si Lino na magaling talagang director."
9. Home Along Da Riles (1991)
What's it about: “Home Along Da Riles” revolves around an extended Filipino family living alongside the railroad tracks. Dolphy played the family breadwinner Kevin Cosme, who works as a messenger and janitor but dreams of working overseas. While the Cosmes are poor, they, like the Puruntongs, are happy, maintaining a positive outlook on life.
Why it matters: With his career in a slump after his breakup with Alma Moreno and news of his relationship with Zsa Zsa Padilla, Dolphy staged a major comeback with this ABS-CBN sitcom in 1991, which ran for 11 years until 2002.
Dolphy's recollection of the TV show: "Talagang very welcome ako sa ABS-CBN. Buhay pa si Geny, pero pa-advise-advise na lang siya; hindi na halos nakikialam sa network. ... Sabi ko, huwag nang ilapit sa John en Marsha dahil kung may-asawa uli ang role ko, parang magkakaro'n ng comparison. 'Imposibleng mapantayan 'yon,' kako," he said in his book.
It was Dolphy who suggested that his character should be a widower with children.
But because of his controversial image at the time, many expected the TV show to fail.
"No'ng mag-e-airing na kami, nag-umpisa na naman ang mga batikos. Kesyo bangkay na raw, ba't bubuhayin pa; kesyo ang nakalibing na, 'di na dapat hukayin," he said in his book.
"Dasal ako, one-on-one na naman ako with the Lord. First episode, No. 2 kami kaagad. Pinaka-overwhelming na rating namin, umabot sa halos 81%, dinaig pa ang Miss Universe. Sa madaling salita, gano'n kasikat! Natameme ang mga kalaban na writers."
10. Markova: Comfort Gay (2000)
What's it about: Based on a true story, “Markova: Comfort Gay,” is about the recollections of an aging Filipino homosexual who was forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers occupying Manila when he was working as a drag performer during World War II.
Why it matters: Dolphy won his first international award, when he and sons Eric and Jeffrey "Epy" Quizon shared the Best Perfomer award at the Brussels International Film Festival.
Dolphy's recollection of the film: "Katas na, kung baga, ang 'Markova' para sa akin. Maganda ang pelikula, kahit hindi pang-masa. Tuwang-tuwa ako no'ng nanalo si Epy ro'n ng award. But, of course, ang pinakamalaking kasiyahan ko ro'n, eh, nakasama ko'ng tatlong anak ko sa isang project na naiiba naman. Marami na akong nagawang movies with my other children pero karamihan do'n kasi comedy," Dolphy said.
"Sa 'Markova,' kontra-bida si Freddie; Epy, Eric and I played Markova at various ages of his life. Bihira ang gano'ng chance, and ang ganda nang ginawa para sa career ni Epy."