In addition to rewatching his films such as “Mr. Mom” and “Love at First Bite,” he loved watching his movie “Necessary Roughness,” Yolanda Dragoti said, “Because he loved football.”
“He got me hooked on Turner Classic Movies, we would watch black and white movies all night long,” she recalled. “He was such a history buff, a film buff. I learned so much from him.”
Born in Manhattan, Dragoti was the son of Albanian immigrants.
He attended Cooper Union College and later the Visual Arts College before working at the New York City advertising agencies Young & Rubicam and Mary Wells Lawrence. He partnered with Charlie Moss to create the “I Love New York” tourism campaign.
Dragoti broke into Hollywood by teaming with Moss on the screenplay for 1972’s Western “Dirty Little Billy,” which Dragoti directed with Michael J. Pollard starring.
Dragoti directed the 1979 Dracula spoof “Love at First Bite,” starring George Hamilton. During a trip to the Cannes Film Festival to promote the movie, he was arrested during a layover in Frankfurt, Germany, for possession of cocaine and spent eight weeks in jail before a judge released him and suspended his sentence.
According to a cover story for People magazine, Dragoti told the court he had been driven to drugs by overwork and the pain of dealing with a love affair between his then-wife, Cheryl Tiegs, and photographer Peter Beard. “I guess you could say I was not strong enough to take the pain,” he told the magazine.
Dragoti went on to direct 1983’s “Mr. Mom,” starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, from a screenplay by John Hughes. He also directed “The Man With One Red Shoe,” starring Tom Hanks; “She’s Out of Control,” with Tony Danza and Catherine Hicks; and “Necessary Roughness,” starring Scott Bakula.
Dragoti was married to fashion model Tiegs between 1970 and 1979 before they divorced. He is survived by his wife Yolanda, whom he had been with for 30 years and married in 2014. He had no children.