Dana Delany Remembers Longtime Friend Bob Saget's Magnetic Allure and Darkly Comedic Charms

By Dana Delany as told to Chris Gardner / January 11, 2022
The actress opens up to The Hollywood Reporter about the untimely death of the actor-comedian for whom she starred in a 1996 TV movie inspired by the death of his sister, Gay, from scleroderma: "He was a well of deep emotion."
Dana Delany and Bob Saget. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Hollywood continues to mourn Bob Saget. The multi-hyphenate, whose portrayal of beloved dad Danny Tanner on Full House made him one of TV's most popular fathers, had just launched a stand-up comedy tour when he died in Florida over the weekend at the age of 65. Here, fellow actor Dana Delany remembers her longtime friend.

I've known Bob [Saget] for 35 years. We're the same age, and we kind of started out together. Bob was one of those guys that you could just call out of the blue and get right back into the groove, and I'm so unhappy that I can't pick up the phone now to call him and say how ridiculous it is that he's dead. Bob would think it's so absurd. But seeing the outpouring of love for Bob from friends and from all over the world, I feel like he would be so happy to be getting so much attention. That makes me laugh.

Not long after Sharon Monsky started the Scleroderma Research Foundation, Bob and I went to the second event they had. Neither of us knew anything about scleroderma, we just went because chef Susan Feniger invited us and we liked her food. It was 1989 and I remember Rosie O'Donnell was one of the comedians who performed. We just kept going to the events because Sharon was so magnetic and such a powerful human being and the events were a perfect combination of food, fun and a good cause for a remarkable person.

You may have heard this story by now but Bob was asked to host it and — since he was close with his family — his parents and his sister, Gay, went to the event. A year later, she was diagnosed with scleroderma, which was bizarre. Bob and I share the same dark sense of humor and we used to joke, "Don't go to the benefit because you'll get scleroderma."

After Gay died from scleroderma [in 1994], Bob came up with an idea to make a television movie about her. At the time, there was a big stigma against disease-of-the-week movies and you really didn't want to be in one. But Bob and Brad Grey, who used to manage both of us, called me one day. Bob said, "I really would love it if you could do this." I said, "Oh for Sharon, I will do anything." So, Bob wrote [the film] For Hope with Susan Rice, who is still a good friend, and he also directed it.

We shot in Vancouver because it was cheaper, and I was basically playing a version of Bob's sister, Gay. There was a wonderful young actor playing Adam, her son, who is a real estate agent now in L.A. We had to do extensive prosthetic makeup because Gay had the systemic type of scleroderma that really shows on the face. We went to Tom and Bari Burman, preeminent prosthetic makeup artists, to create the look. I showed up four hours early every day to get it done, and we weren't as advanced back then and there was no CGI, so if you watch the movie, you might see little cracks here and there.

But Bob was a fantastic director and I feel like not a lot of people know that. He was so talented and he won an Oscar, [a Student Academy Award], when he was in college. He's actually one of my favorite directors I've ever worked with. Maybe because he's an actor, he understands material from an actress' point of view. See? I am still talking about him in the present tense. He had such a fine sense of balance between comedy and tragedy and his whole life was like that because he lost so many people in his family early on [his sister Andrea died of a brain aneurism in 1985]. I find that combination makes for great filmmaking. We would ride up to the edge of melodrama and then there would be some joke to break the tension. It was a joyous, joyous film shoot, and everybody remained very close from it.

Bob was in his element. He loved directing and I wish he had done more of it. He did everything from top to bottom — writing, directing, editing, music, publicity. I mean, Bob had to do it all. He was pretty much a control freak, but it was always done with enthusiasm. He couldn't help himself, and he was so good at it.

Not long after that, both Bob and I joined the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation. I was on the board for maybe 15 years and Bob eventually started running the Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine event. He really made it into what it is today, raising so much money and awareness. I think I've been to almost every one of the events over the years because it's fun but also because it's Bob. He had a knack for pairing musicians, comedians and actors because everybody wanted to hang out with Bob. He liked to drink a lot so it was always one continuous party. He got people like John Mayer, Jackson Browne and the Goo Goo Dolls to come play because being around him was like a traveling circus. Wherever Bob went, people wanted to be a part of it. At the same time, he really was a deeply emotional person. Bob could cry at the drop of the hat over anything. He was really a well of deep emotion.

I'm a bit prejudiced, but his work on behalf of scleroderma is what's going to really resonate for years to come. I think he would feel good about that because it was his legacy, especially for his sister and for his parents. Even if we used to joke about how long it's taken to find a cure, that's what I loved about him — that dark humor, again — because it's possible to be funny while facing a horrible disease and still do some good along the way. That's Bob. He had so many facets from Full House to America's Funniest Home Videos to stand-up to the long-running joke of him being America's dirtiest dad.

I remember when Brad Grey was our manager and we all used to hang out together with his other client, Garry Shandling [before their infamous falling out]. I have this image in my head now that makes me laugh of Bob, Garry and Brad Grey up in heaven with Bob brokering a peace deal between the two of them saying, "Hey, you fuckers, life is short, now make up. I love you guys."