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Stan Dragoti, who directed the popular big-screen comedies Love at First Bite and Mr. Mom and was the first husband of supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, has died. He was 85.
Dragoti died Friday at an assisted living facility in Los Angeles, his wife, Yolanda, told The Hollywood Reporter. He had battled health issues since undergoing open-heart surgery four years ago, she said.
A son of an Albanian immigrant, Dragoti came from the world of New York advertising. He made his Hollywood debut by writing and directing Dirty Little Billy (1972), a Western about the early years of the outlaw Billy the Kid (played by Michael J. Pollard).
Dragoti then helmed Love at First Bite (1979), the great Dracula spoof starring George Hamilton as the Count, and got story credit on Mr. Mom. He directed that film, starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, from a screenplay by John Hughes.
Dragoti also helmed The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), starring Tom Hanks; She’s Out of Control (1989), with Tony Danza and Catherine Hicks; and Necessary Roughness (1991), starring Scott Bakula.
Born in Manhattan on Oct. 4, 1932, Dragoti worked as a painter and then at the advertising agencies Young & Rubicam and Mary Wells Lawrence; at the latter, he partnered with Charlie Moss, and they combined on the screenplay for Dirty Little Billy.
Later, the two devised the famous ”I Love New York” ad campaign in the 1970s to bolster tourism in the state.
His second wife was Tiegs, whom he married in 1970.
On the way to the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, Dragoti was caught trying to smuggle 21 grams of cocaine past authorities at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. He spent eight weeks in jail before a judge released him and suspended his 21-month sentence.
Dragoti said he had been driven to drugs by overwork and by an affair that Tiegs was having with photographer Peter Beard. “I guess you could say I was not strong enough to take the pain,” he said in a 1979 People magazine story about his ordeal.
Tiegs and Dragoti eventually divorced. She then married Beard, and they divorced as well.
Dragoti and Yolanda married four years ago and were together for 30 years. He had no children.
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