Dom DeLuise, seen here in Hollywood in 2006, died Monday night following a long illness, his family said. ((Frazer Harrison/Getty Images))

Actor and comedian Dom DeLuise, who developed a reputation as an avid amateur chef along with his prolific entertainment career, has died at age 75.

DeLuise died in his sleep in Santa Monica, Calif., on Monday night following a long illness, according to his son, Michael.

Born in New York, DeLuise discovered his love of performance early on and eventually graduated from the famed School of Performing Arts in Manhattan.

He got his start in theatre  — off-Broadway and, later, Broadway — and moved on to TV comedy-variety shows, with his affable nature helping him develop a busy acting career. He became a regular foil for actor friends such as Burt Reynolds and Dean Martin, as well as for director Mel Brooks.

'Dom always made you feel better when he was around and there will never be another like him ... I will miss him very much.' —Burt Reynolds

Brooks called on DeLuise often for his comedies, including The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and  Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

The portly actor was also often cast opposite his friend Reynolds, appearing in  The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Cannonball Run, its sequel and Smokey and the Bandit II.

Missed by Reynolds, Burnett

"I was thinking about this the other day," Reynolds said in a statement.

"As you get older and start to lose people you love, you think about it more and I was dreading this moment. Dom always made you feel better when he was around and there will never be another like him. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much."

'To know Dom was to love him and I knew him very well.' —Carol Burnett

TV comedy great Carol Burnett, who acted alongside DeLuise in the the 1960s and 1970s, also recalled him fondly.

"To know Dom was to love him and I knew him very well. Not only was he talented and extremely funny, but he was a very special human being," she said.

DeLuise's prolific career spanned movies, television shows, cartoons, Broadway plays and even a regular gig as Frosh the Jailer in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Die Fledermaus.

Food was also a passion for DeLuise, who made morning TV appearances demonstrating his favourite recipes and wrote two successful cookbooks: 1988's Eat This — It Will Make You Feel Better! and 1997's Eat This Too! It'll Also Make You Feel Good.

However, his love of eating also led to a longtime battle with obesity.

DeLuise is survived by his wife, Carol, and his three sons, Peter, Michael and David — who all became actors.

With files from The Associated Press