MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines' "King of Comedy," the performer fondly called Dolphy by generations of Filipinos, has died.
Rodolfo Vera Quizon Sr. was 83. He died late Monday at Makati Medical Center of multiple organ failure and complications from pneumonia, according to an email from the hospital where he had been treated. He also suffered from kidney failure.
Philippine government officials, fellow movie and TV celebrities and common folk heaped praise on Quizon, who shot to fame for portraying gay roles and odd characters.
One of the late actor's sons, Eric Quizon, read a family statement before a huddle of TV cameras and journalists, thanking millions of Filipinos for supporting his father and asking for prayers.
"Heaven is a happier place with him there," said Quizon, who is also an actor.
The elder Quizon started performing on stage in the 1940s during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and made his final comedy flick, where he played a priest, two years ago.
One of Quizon's biggest comedy hits was `Facifica Falayfay," where he played a gay man. He also starred in a popular, longtime television comedy, "John en Marsha," where he played a man perpetually at odds with his mother-in-law.
Quizon starred in more than 200 films in his 66-year career, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency.
Many of his comedy flicks were produced by his own movie firm, RVQ Productions, which he set up in the 1960s.
President Benigno Aquino III said Quizon was a kind man who represented the Filipino everyman and gave his countrymen "a reason to smile for the daily happenings" in their lives.
Ex-President Joseph Estrada, a former actor, says Quizon should receive the prestigious National Artist award.
Quizon had never been married but bore children with a number of women. Some of his children also entered the movies, with a few following in his footsteps as a comedian.
As a young boy, he worked as a laborer, watching comedy stage shows before he himself became immensely popular. Philippine presidential candidates had sought his backing during elections to endear themselves to his massive following.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)