Remember Deney Terrio? Anyone? Dance Fever? Ring a bell? Deney was the host of the cheesetastic variety show from 1979 to 1985 that pitted hyped-up couples against each other as they shook their groove thangs to the best songs of the day in an attempt to garner five minutes of spandex fame and a bottle of Turtle Wax. It was a bit Solid Gold mixed with Dancing With the Stars and sprinkled with an 8-ball of coke…a perfect relic of a time period when the last days of disco were giving way to the incoming reign of New Wave. And when you bring together the fashion and dance of the late ’70s and early ’80s, you’ve got some must-watch TV.
Deney was also the man behind John Travolta…uh, we mean the man behind John’s iconic character Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever. Deney choreographed all the disco-inferno dance moves John threw down on that lit-up dance floor. Yes, even the famous “point your finger to Xenu up in the sky” gesture.
Well, Deney is mad, and it’s not because his last acting credit was in 1983’s A Night in Heaven, starring Christopher Atkins. No, he’s taking Hasbro to task for its creation of Vinnie Terrio, a gecko character in its animated series Littlest Pet Shop who just!…wants!…to!…dance! His suit claims the tiny reptile violates his publicity rights and he’s suing for the “willful and deliberate use of [his] name, image, and likeness without consent.”
Even worse, Vinnie the gecko is trying to upchuck his boogie by using what Deney refers to as his signature dance move—the one we spoke about earlier, which was very specifically described in his suit. “He would hold his left hip/upper thigh with his left hand and then point out to the right with his right hand and right pointer figure.”
The suit goes on to claim that Deney “used this signature move on Dance Fever and in almost every appearance he has done since then.”
But wait, there’s more. Vinnie Terrio not only stole Deney Terrio’s name, moves, hairdo, and propensity to wear white leisure suits, but Hasbro is selling a Vinnie figurine in stores and even in Happy Meals! Unfair!
Deney is seeking damages and a share of profits in excess of $75,000.
Hopefully this goes better for Deney than his last time in the court system—when he filed an $11.3-million lawsuit against Merv Griffin (the Ryan Seacrest of his time) in 1991 for sexual harassment. The case was eventually dismissed.