As the nation continues to closely monitor the condition of Dolphy, who has been confined at the Makati Medical Center for pneumonia since June 9, the call for honoring him with the National Artist Award while he remains with us has grown stronger than ever.
Let us look back at the remarkable career of the King of Comedy and review the five best roles that have made the greatest impact on our culture and have pretty much secured his legacy.
Only two in the list features Dolphy as a cross-dresser, one of which counts as his greatest cinematic achievement. Another has him essaying the dual roles of superspy and superhero.
Two of the top three are characters he played on television, where for more than four decades he cast an indelible presence as the Filipino Everyman and the quintessential struggling husband and father who succeeds against all odds through his principles and sense of humor.
5. “JACK EN JILL” (1954)
Although Dolphy first appeared on films as early as 1946, his breakout role came eight years later. Gorio, who prefers to be called Glory, is the first of many memorable gay characters that the comedian would essay over the succeeding decades. It also didn’t hurt that his co-stars were two of the most popular stars back then: Lolita Rodriguez and Rogelio de la Rosa.
4. “JAMES BATMAN” (1966)
During the ’60s, most of Dolphy’s roles were for films that basically spoofed the popular blockbusters of the time, including “Tansan vs. Tarsan”, “Barilan Sa Baboy Kural”, “Dr. Yes”, and “Dolpinger.”
In “James Batman,” the comedian not only spoofed James Bond himself but also the crimefighting superhero dubbed as “The Caped Crusader” in a dual role. Yes, he also had both a Robin (played by Boy Alano) and a Batmobile, too.
3. “HOME ALONG DA RILES” (TV series, 1992-2003)
With “Buhay Artista”, “John En Marsha” and this top-rated sitcom, Dolphy was just as much of a hit in our homes as he was on the big screen.
Dolphy was a hoot as Kevin Kosme, a widower who works as a messenger slash janitor for an employment agency trying to make ends meet with his meager income, while constantly avoiding the advances of sister-in-law and former girlfriend played by Nova Villa.
The show was so popular two movie versions of it were produced at the height of its popularity.
2. “ANG TATAY KONG NANAY” (1978)
In what critics consider as his greatest cinematic achievement under the direction of no less than the legendary Lino Brocka, Dolphy plays Coring, a gay beautician who suddenly finds himself raising the young son (Niño Muhlach) of his former boyfriend who left him for a woman.
Dolphy was nominated as best actor by both the FAMAS and Urian for this unforgettable performance. (He won his only FAMAS for the horror-comedy, “Omeng Satanasia”.) You can still catch this movie on cable from time to time.
1. “JOHN EN MARSHA” (TV series, 1973-1990)
Who can ever forget John H. Puruntong, the impoverished everyman who will do anything and everything to provide for his family?
For the sitcom’s record-duration of 17 years — which also paved the way for nine (count ‘em, nine) film adaptations, including two unprecedented “Best Of” titles — John also kept his rich mother-in-law (Dely Atay-Atayan) at bay, shunning her financial assistance as his “pride chicken” and strong family values endeared him to viewers forever.