Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Joey de Leon

Joey de Leon

José María Ramos de León, better known simply as Joey de Leon (born October 14, 1946) is a Filipino comedian/TV host who is known for his sarcasm and one of the popular hosts of the long-running noontime variety show Eat Bulaga!. He is a member of the famous comedy trio Tito, Vic and Joey that has made several hit comedy movies and TV shows. Also known as a songwriter, Joey has penned some Filipino hit songs deemed as classics including "Ipagpatawad Mo" (Forgive Me), "Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko" (Sing and I Will Dance), "Boyfriend kong Baduy" (My Geeky Boyfriend), "Iskul Bukol" (School is Tough), and many more.

Off camera, Joey is husband to Eileen Macapagal, with whom has three children, Jocas, Jako and Jio. He also has two children from actress Daria Ramirez: TV host/actor-comedian Keempee de Leon and Cheenee de Leon. Joey has 4 grandchildren also, one from Keempee and 3 from Cheenee.

Joey spent his early childhood in Sampaloc, Manila with his mother. His father, Jose Suwani de Leon (of Spanish descent), never lived with them. Instead, the elder de Leon sent financial support (through his pension at USAFFE) to Joey's mother so that his son would be able to attend school.

Joey's early childhood ranged from the traumatic to comical moments. His most traumatic experience occurred at age 4 when he almost drowned during a family beach outing. Because of the incident, he developed a phobia for bodies of water. Among his funny childhood experiences were playing pranks on his female classmates when he was in Grade 4.

During his teen years, Joey and his mother lived with his mother's relatives. His aunt and his godmother shouldered his high school expenses. But when he took up architecture at National University, his father's pension at USAFFE completely covered his college fees. After two years, Joey quit architecture (because he wasn't keen on Math) and took several odd jobs. Soon after, upon the prodding of his cousin and best friend Freddie Villareal, they went to a radio station to meet up with Karina Afable but instead of meeting her, they chanced upon an audition for radio announcers. Joey wasn't interested at first but his cousin secretly enlisted his name at the auditions. Soon after, Joey was hired after passing the auditions.

He started out his showbiz career in the 1960s as a radio DJ (disc jockey) for some of the top FM stations mostly owned by pre-martial law ABS-CBN. Some of his radio colleagues and contemporaries included the late Inday Badiday, Ike Lozada, Johnny de Leon (no relation) and Helen Vela. In a span of five years, he sat down on 12 FM stations while doing other jobs as gag writer and songwriter. His first big break on TV was IBC's gag show OK Lang which starred him alongside the Sotto brothers (Tito, Vic and Val), Ricky Manalo, Jr. and the APO Hiking Society.

[edit] Tito, Vic and Joey

In 1975, Joey became a co-host of GMA Network's early afternoon variety show Discorama hosted by Bobby Ledesma (of Student Canteen fame). At that time, the show hardly had any viewers and ratings were bad. While Bobby was on vacation, he told Joey to take care of the show. Joey invited his former co-stars at OK Lang, brothers Tito, Vic and Val Sotto, to join him at Discorama. Only Tito and Vic accepted Joey's invitation. The newly-formed trio started to do comedy newscast segments interspersed with hilarious interpretations of Top 40 hit songs using made-up lyrics written by Joey. Thus the trio Tito, Vic and Joey was born. Discorama was given a new lease in life and was saved from the axe of GMA Network executives. The new trio was also included in Bobby's noontime show Student Canteen and also released 12 Tough Hits albums based on their Discorama Tough Hits segment.

Although Tito, Vic and Joey started their trio via Discorama and Student Canteen, it was the sitcom Iskul Bukol that gave them nationwide fame as comedians. Soon after, other TV and movie producers came knocking on the trio's door. In 1979, Tito, Vic and Joey started hosting for the noontime show Eat Bulaga! which was pitted against the more established Student Canteen hosted by their former colleague (and now competitor) Bobby Ledesma. Not long after, Eat Bulaga! toppled Student Canteen in the ratings.

Joey as solo artist

Although Joey continued to do movies alongside his showbiz team mates Tito and Vic, he started doing solo performances for other TV shows. He topbilled Joey and Son in the '80s, a sitcom on RPN where he played father to a very young Ian Veneracion(who later metamorphosed into a teen heartthrob and action star in the '90s). He was also one of the gag performers on TODAS where his other co-stars included Jimmy Santos and Val Sotto. Other TV shows that Joey did as a solo host/comedian included Apple Pie, Patis, Atbp., The Sharon Cuneta Show, Let's Go Crazy and many more. Soon after, he was launched by Viva Films as a solo comedian in She-Man: Mistress of the Universe, a parody of the foreign animated series He-Man. The movie was a big hit, and Joey went on to do more movies alone, mostly with his favorite sidekick Rene Requiestas. He also tried his hand at directing movies like Romeo loves Juliet and Small, Medium, Large.

Joey topbilled movies that are mostly spoofs of foreign movies or takes at American and Filipino pop culture. When Starzan became a box-office hit in 1989, he did two more sequels on that same year with tremendous box-office results. Because of the phenomenal box-office standings of the 3 Starzan movies that he made, he was named Box-Office King for that year. He also earned the title Sequel King because most of his movies (Barbi, Elvis and James, Long Ranger en Tonton) each spawned sequels.

When Rene Requiestas went solo with his movie career (and later died in 1993), Joey concentrated on TV. He did several TV shows for major networks, mostly with GMA and ABC. In 1995, Joey made a movie comeback via the comedy Bangers for Viva Films, which teamed him up with (the late) comic legend Chiquito and rapper/comedian Andrew E.. This was later followed up by a series of comedy films that had him topbilled alongside other comedians like Leo Martinez (Pipti-pipti) and Dennis Padilla (Ang Tipo kong Lalake and Takot ako sa Darling Ko). However, with the Philippine movie industry slowly losing its grip on the audience, Joey decided to concentrate on TV again, although he still appears in movies every now and then. Currently he still hosts Eat Bulaga which is now the longest-running TV program in the Philippines, and appears in other shows like Mel and Joey, Startalk, Nuts Entertainment and just recently started a new show for ABC, Teka Mona, which replaced Wow Mali, his long-running TV show on the same network. Another show is in the works for Joey this time on GMA's sister station Q. He started hosting Takeshi's Castle with Ryan Yllana. He is also the resident judge of the annual reality-based star search StarStruck and writes the entertainment column De Leon's Den once a week in the Philippine broadsheet Manila Bulletin.

For news articles about Joey de Leon go to CelebritiesCorner.


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