Rodney Dangerfield
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Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Danagerfield 1972-1.jpg
Dangerfield performing in 1972
Birth name Jacob Cohen
Born (1921-11-22)November 22, 1921
Deer Park, New York, U.S.
Died October 5, 2004(2004-10-05) (aged 82)
Westwood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Medium Stand-up, film, television
Nationality American
Years active 1940-1949, 1956-2004
Genres Depression, human sexuality, ageing, deadpan, self-deprecation, alcoholism
Spouse Joyce Indig (m. 1949-div. 1962; m. 1963-div. 1970)
Joan Child (m. 1993; his death 2004)
Children 2
Signature Rodney Dangerfield Signature.svg
Website rodney.com

Rodney Dangerfield (born Jacob Cohen, November 22, 1921 - October 5, 2004)[5] was an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer and screenwriter known for the catchphrase "I don't get no respect!" and his monologues on that theme. He is also remembered for his 1980s film roles, especially in Easy Money, Caddyshack, and Back to School.

Early life

Dangerfield was born in Babylon, in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.[5] He was the son of Jewish parents, Dorothy "Dotty" (Teitelbaum) and the vaudevillian performer Phil Roy (Phillip Cohen). His mother was born in Hungary.[6] Dangerfield's father was rarely home; Rodney would normally see him only twice a year. Late in life, Rodney's father begged him for forgiveness, and Rodney obliged.[7]

After his father abandoned the family, his mother moved him and his sister to Kew Gardens, Queens, and he attended Richmond Hill High School, where he graduated in 1939. To support himself and his family, he sold newspapers and ice cream at the beach, and delivered groceries.[7]

At the age of 15, he began to write for stand-up comedians, and he himself began to perform at a resort in Ellenville, New York,[8] at the age of 19 under the name Jack Roy,[9] to which he legally changed his name.[10] He struggled financially for nine years, at one point performing as a singing waiter until he was fired, and also working as a performing acrobatic diver before giving up show business to take a job selling aluminum siding to support his wife and family. He later said that he was so little known then that "at the time I quit, I was the only one who knew I quit!"

Career

Early career

In the early 1960s he started down what would be a long road toward rehabilitating his career as an entertainer, still working as a salesman by day. He divorced his first wife Joyce in 1961, and returned to the stage, performing at many hotels in the Catskill Mountains, but still with minimal success. He fell into debt (about $20,000 by his own estimate), and couldn't get booked. As he would later joke, "I played one club--it was so far out, my act was reviewed in Field & Stream."[11]

He came to realize that what he lacked was an "image"--a well-defined on-stage persona that audiences could relate to, and that would distinguish him from similar comics. Returning to the East Coast, after being shunned by the premier comedy venues, he began to develop a character for whom nothing goes right.

He took the name Rodney Dangerfield, which had been used as the comical name of a faux cowboy star by Jack Benny on his radio program at least as early as the December 21, 1941, broadcast, and later as a pseudonym by Ricky Nelson on the TV program The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The Benny character, who also received little or no respect from the outside world, served as a great inspiration to Dangerfield while he was developing his own comedy character. The "Biography" program also tells of the time Benny visited Dangerfield backstage after one of his performances. During this visit Benny complimented him on developing such a wonderful comedy character and style. However, Jack Roy remained Dangerfield's legal name,[12] as he mentioned in several interviews. During a question-and-answer session with the audience on the album No Respect, Dangerfield joked that his real name was Percival Sweetwater.

Career surge

Dangerfield's one-liner style of comedy
  • "My fan club broke up. The guy died."
  • "Last week my house was on fire. My wife told the kids, 'Be quiet, you'll wake up Daddy."'
  • "I was ugly, very ugly. When I was born, the doctor smacked my mother."[5]

On Sunday, March 5, 1967, The Ed Sullivan Show needed a last-minute replacement for another act,[13] and Dangerfield became the surprise hit of the show.

Dangerfield began headlining shows in Las Vegas and made frequent encore appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.[14] He became a regular on The Dean Martin Show and appeared on The Tonight Show a total of 35 times.[15] One of his quips as a standup comedian was, "I walked into a bar the other day and ordered a drink. The bartender says, 'I can't serve you.' I said, 'Why not? I'm over 21!' He said, 'You're just too ugly.' I said as always, 'Boy I tell you, I get no respect around here'." The "no respect" phrase would come to define his act in the years that followed.

In 1969, Rodney Dangerfield teamed up with longtime friend Anthony Bevacqua to build the Dangerfield's comedy club in New York City. Rodney now had a venue in which to perform on a regular basis, without having to constantly travel. The club became a huge success. Dangerfield's has been in continuous operation for over 40 years.[16] Dangerfield's was the venue for several HBO shows which helped popularize many standup comics, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Robert Townsend, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Rita Rudner, Andrew Dice Clay, Louie Anderson, Dom Irrera and Bob Saget.[]

Rodney Dangerfield's 1980 comedy album No Respect.

His 1980 comedy album, No Respect, won a Grammy Award.[17] One of his TV specials featured a musical number, "Rappin' Rodney", which would appear on his 1983 follow-up album, Rappin' Rodney. In December 1983, the "Rappin' Rodney" single became one of the first Hot 100 rap records, and the associated video was an early MTV hit.[18] The video featured cameo appearances by Don Novello (aka Father Guido Sarducci) as a last rites priest munching on Rodney's last meal of fast food in a styrofoam container and Pat Benatar as a masked executioner pulling a hangman's knot. The two appear in a dream sequence where Dangerfield is condemned to die and doesn't get any respect even in Heaven, as the gates close without his being permitted to enter.

Career peak

Though his acting career had begun much earlier in obscure movies like The Projectionist (1971),[8] Dangerfield's career peaked during the early 1980s, when he began acting in hit comedy movies.

One of Dangerfield's more memorable performances was in the 1980 golf comedy Caddyshack, in which he played a nouveau riche developer who was a guest at a golf club and began shaking up the establishment of the club's old guard. His role was initially smaller, but because he and fellow cast members Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were so deft at improvisation, their roles were greatly expanded (much to the chagrin of some of their castmates).[19] His appearance in Caddyshack led to starring roles in Easy Money and Back To School. Unlike his stand-up persona, his comedy film characters were portrayed as successful and generally popular--if still loud, brash and detested by the wealthy elite.

Throughout the 1980s, Dangerfield also appeared in a series of commercials for Miller Lite beer, including one where various celebrities who had appeared in the ads were holding a bowling match whose score became tied. After a bearded Ben Davidson told Rodney, "All we need is one pin, Rodney", Dangerfield's ball went down the lane and bounced perpendicularly off the head pin, landing in the gutter without knocking down any of the pins.

In a change of pace from the comedy persona that made him famous, he played an abusive father in Natural Born Killers in a scene for which he wrote or rewrote all of his own lines.[20]

Dangerfield was rejected for membership in the Motion Picture Academy in 1995 by the head of the Academy's Actors Section, Roddy McDowall.[21] After fan protests the Academy reconsidered, but Dangerfield then refused to accept membership.

Dangerfield appeared in an episode of The Simpsons titled "Burns, Baby Burns" wherein he played a character who is essentially a parody of his own persona, Mr. Burns's son Larry Burns. He also appeared as himself in an episode of Home Improvement.

Dangerfield also appeared in the 2000 Adam Sandler film Little Nicky, playing Lucifer, the father of Satan (Harvey Keitel) and grandfather of Nicky (Sandler).

He was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution, which put one of his trademark white shirts and red ties on display. When he handed the shirt to the museum's curator, Rodney joked, "I have a feeling you're going to use this to clean Lindbergh's plane."[22]

Dangerfield played an important role in comedian Jim Carrey's rise to stardom. In the 1980s, after watching Carrey perform at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, Rodney signed Carrey to open for his Las Vegas show. The two would tour together for about two more years.[23]

Personal life

Dangerfield was married twice to Joyce Indig. Together, the couple had two children: son Brian Roy (born 1949) and daughter Melanie Roy-Friedman. From 1993 until his death, he was married to Joan Child.[24]

In 1980, Rodney shared an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side with a housekeeper, his poodle, Keno, and his closest friend of 30 years, Joe Ancis.[25] Joe was also friend of and major influence on Lenny Bruce, and was a surrealistically fast and funny man who could never perform in front of strangers.[26]

Dangerfield resented being confused with his on-stage persona. Although his wife Joan described him as "classy, gentlemanly, sensitive and intelligent,"[27] he was often treated like the loser he played. In his 2004 autobiography, It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs (ISBN 0-06-621107-7), which was released posthumously, he confessed to being a longtime marijuana smoker. The book's original title was My Love Affair With Marijuana.[28]

Although Dangerfield was raised Jewish, he called himself an atheist during an interview with Howard Stern on May 25, 2004. Dangerfield added that he was a "logical" atheist.[29]

Later years and death

Dangerfield's headstone at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery

On November 22, 2001 (his 80th birthday), Dangerfield suffered a mild heart attack while backstage at the Tonight Show. During Dangerfield's hospital stay, the staff were reportedly upset that he smoked marijuana in his room.[30] But he was back at the Tonight Show a year later, performing on his 81st birthday.[30]

On April 8, 2004, Dangerfield underwent brain surgery to improve blood flow in preparation for heart valve-replacement surgery on August 24, 2004. Upon entering the hospital, he uttered another characteristic one-liner when asked how long he would be hospitalized: "If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour and a half."[31]

In September 2004, it was revealed that Dangerfield had been in a coma for several weeks. Afterward, he began breathing on his own and showing signs of awareness when visited by friends. He died on October 5, 2004-a month and a half shy of his 83rd birthday-at the UCLA Medical Center, from complications of the surgery he had undergone in August. Dangerfield was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. His headstone reads, "Rodney Dangerfield... There goes the neighborhood."[32]

Joan Child held an event in which the word "respect" had been emblazoned in the sky, while each guest was given a live monarch butterfly for a butterfly-release ceremony led by Farrah Fawcett.[33]

Legacy

UCLA's Division of Neurosurgery named a suite of operating rooms after him and gave him the "Rodney Respect Award", which his widow presented to Jay Leno on October 20, 2005. It was presented on behalf of the David Geffen School of Medicine/Division of Neurosurgery at UCLA at their 2005 Visionary Ball.[34] Other such recipients of the "Rodney Respect Award" include Tim Allen (2007),[35]Jim Carrey (2009), Louie Anderson (2010),[36]Bob Saget (2011) and Chelsea Handler (2012).[37]

In his memory, Saturday Night Live ran a short sketch of Dangerfield (played by Darrell Hammond) at the gates of heaven. Saint Peter mentions that he heard Dangerfield got no respect in life, which prompts Dangerfield to spew an entire string of his famous one-liners. After he's done, he asks why Saint Peter was so interested. Saint Peter replies, "I just wanted to hear those jokes one more time" and waves him into heaven, prompting Dangerfield to joyfully declare: "Finally! A little respect!"[38]

On September 10, 2006, Comedy Central's Legends: Rodney Dangerfield commemorated his life and legacy. Featured comedians included Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Saget, Jerry Stiller, Kevin Kline and Jeff Foxworthy.[39]

In 2007, a Rodney Dangerfield tattoo was among the most popular celebrity tattoos in the United States.[40]

On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, May 29, 2009, Leno credited Dangerfield with popularizing the style of joke he had long been using. The format of the joke is that the comedian tells a sidekick how bad something is, and the sidekick--in this case, guitar player Kevin Eubanks--sets up the joke by asking just how bad that something is.[41]

In March 2017, Dangerfield's widow expressed disappointment with a mural that had been painted of Dangerfield in his old New York neighborhood of Queens about a year earlier .[42]

Beginning June 12, 2017, Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy hosted the first class of The Rodney Dangerfield Institute of Comedy. The class is a stand-up comedy class which is taught by comedienne Joanie Willgues, aka Joanie Coyote.[43][44]

Filmography

Film

Title Year Credited as Notes Ref(s)
Actor Producer Writer Role(s)
The Killing 1956 Uncredited Onlooker [45]
The Projectionist 1971 Yes Renaldi / The Bat [46]
Caddyshack 1980 Yes Uncredited Al Czervik Additional dialogue (uncredited) [47]
Easy Money 1983 Yes Yes Monty Capuletti
Back to School 1986 Yes Thornton Melon
Moving 1988 Uncredited Loan Broker
Rover Dangerfield 1991 Yes Yes Yes Rover Dangerfield Voice, Executive Producer, Based on an idea by, Screenplay, Story developed by
Ladybugs 1992 Yes Chester Lee
Natural Born Killers 1994 Yes Uncredited Ed Wilson, Mallory's Dad Additional dialogue (uncredited) [48]
Casper 1995 Uncredited Rodney Dangerfield
Meet Wally Sparks 1997 Yes Yes Yes Wally Sparks
Casper: A Spirited Beginning 1997 Yes Mayor Johnny Hunt
The Godson 1998 Yes The Rodfather
Rusty: A Dog's Tale 1998 Yes Bandit the Rabbit Voice
Pirates: 3D Show 1999 Uncredited Crewman Below Deck
My 5 Wives 2000 Yes Yes Yes Monte Peterson
Little Nicky 2000 Yes Lucifer
The 4th Tenor 2002 Yes Yes Lupo
Back by Midnight 2005 Yes Yes Jake Puloski
Angels with Angles 2005 Yes God

Television

Title Year Credited as Notes Ref(s)
Actor Producer Writer Role(s)
The Ed Sullivan Show 1967-1971 Yes Himself 17 appearances [13]
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 1969-1992 Yes Himself Frequent guest
The Dean Martin Show 1972-1973 Yes Uncredited Himself Regular performer [49]
Benny and Barney: Las Vegas Undercover 1977 Yes Manager
The Rodney Dangerfield Show: It's Not Easy Bein' Me 1982 Yes Yes Himself / Various
Rodney Dangerfield: I Can't Take It No More 1983 Yes Yes Himself / Various
Rodney Dangerfield: It's Not Easy Bein' Me 1986 Yes Yes Himself
Rodney Dangerfield: Nothin' Goes Right 1988 Yes Yes Himself
Where's Rodney 1990 Yes Himself Unsold pilot
The Earth Day Special 1990 Yes Dr. Vinny Boombatz
Rodney Dangerfield's The Really Big Show 1991 Yes Yes Himself
Rodney Dangerfield: It's Lonely at the Top 1992 Yes Uncredited Yes Himself
In Living Color 1993 Yes Himself Season 4, Episode 18
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 1995-2004 Yes Himself Frequent guest
The Simpsons 1996 Yes Larry Burns Voice of Mr. Burns's son, Larry Burns in the episode "Burns, Baby Burns"
Suddenly Susan 1996 Yes Artie Plays Artie - an appliance repairman who dies while fixing Susan's oven
Home Improvement 1997 Yes Himself
Rodney Dangerfield's 75th Birthday Toast 1997 Yes Uncredited Yes Himself
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist 1997 Yes Himself Voiced himself in the episode "Day Planner"
The Electric Piper 2003 Yes Rat-A-Tat-Tat Voice
Phil of the Future 2004 Yes Max the Dog Voice of Max the Dog in episode "Doggie Daycare"
Still Standing 2004 Yes Ed Bailey Season 3, Episode 2
Rodney 2004 Yes Himself Episode aired shortly after his death
George Lopez 2004 Leave it to Lopez - Life insurance agent - Episode dedicated to his memory

Discography

Albums

Title Year Notes
The Loser / What's In A Name (reissue) 1966 / 1977
I Don't Get No Respect 1970
No Respect 1980 #48 US
Rappin' Rodney 1983 #36 US
La Contessa 1995
Romeo Rodney 2005
Greatest Bits 2008

Compilation albums

Title Year Notes
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Rodney Dangerfield 2005

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1981 Grammy Award Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album No Respect Won
1987 American Comedy Award Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Back to School Nominated
1987 MTV Video Music Award Best Video from a Film "Twist and Shout" (from Back to School) Nominated
1995 American Comedy Award Creative Achievement Award Won
2002 Hollywood Walk of Fame Won
2003 Commie Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Won

References

  1. ^ Biography: Rodney Dangerfield, The Biography Channel, January 21, 2010
  2. ^ Jerry Seinfeld: The Comedian Award, HBO, April 1, 2007
  3. ^ "Bob Saget on Tom Green Live - Episode 168". Tom Green Live. ManiaTV!. August 2, 2007. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  4. ^ Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Season 14. January 11, 2008. BBC One. 
  5. ^ a b c "Rodney Dangerfield, Comic Seeking Respect, Dies at 82" New York Times October 6, 2004
  6. ^ It's not easy bein' me: a lifetime of no respect but plenty of sex and drugs. Books.google.com. 2005. ISBN 9780061957642. Retrieved 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Dangerfield: summer-film comet". Deseret News. August 26, 1986. Retrieved 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Goldman, Albert (June 14, 1970). "That Laughter You Hear Is the Silent Majority". The New York Times. p. 111. 
  9. ^ "Rodney Dangerfield". Movieactors.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  10. ^ "A "Born Loser" Who Gets Laughs". The Baltimore Sun. July 13, 1969. p. TW6. 
  11. ^ "Rodney Dangerfield Remarries . . . And This Time He's Sober." ABC News. August 24, 2000.
  12. ^ Kapelovitz, Dan (October 2004). "Clear and Present Dangerfield". Hustler. Retrieved 2007. 
  13. ^ a b "Rodney Dangerfield | Ed Sullivan Show". Edsullivan.com. March 5, 1967. Retrieved 2012. 
  14. ^ cast list for Ed Sullivan Show
  15. ^ episode guide for Tonight Show
  16. ^ "Rodney Dangerfield dead at 82". MSNBC.com. Associated Press. October 7, 2004. Retrieved 2006. 
  17. ^ 23rd Annual Grammy Awards. Grammy.com
  18. ^ "Rappin' Rodney Dangerfield - No Respect in 1983". Fourth Grade Nothing. August 10, 2011. Retrieved 2012. 
  19. ^ Caddyshack: The Inside Story, Bio.HD December 13, 2009.
  20. ^ De Vries, Hilary. "Natural Born Actor : Comic titan Rodney Dangerfield is getting respect for his performance as a hateful dad in 'Natural Born Killers.'" L.A. Times. August 21, 1994.
  21. ^ "Dangerfield dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. October 6, 2004. 
  22. ^ "AP news report in the ''Ocala Star-Banner,'' April 29, 1982". News.google.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  23. ^ Jim Carrey's foreword in It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs by Rodney Dangerfield. (c) 2004, HarperCollins Publishers.[1]
  24. ^ Pearlman, Jeff (July 24, 2004). "The Tears of a Clown". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016. 
  25. ^ Durkee, Culter (October 6, 1980). "Rodney Dangerfield Has Known Worse--It's Usually An Albatross". People (magazine). Retrieved 2017. 
  26. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (September 18, 1980). "Rodney Dangerfield: He Whines That We May Laugh". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017. 
  27. ^ Hedegaard, Erik (May 19, 2004). "Gone to Pot". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007. 
  28. ^ Pearlman, Jeff (July 18, 2004). "Dangerfield is no laughing matter". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2006. 
  29. ^ https://ffrf.org/news/day/dayitems/item/14909-rodney-dangerfield- Dangerfield said he was an atheist during an interview with Howard Stern in May 2004. Stern asked Dangerfield if he believed in an afterlife. Dangerfield answered he was a "logical" atheist and added, "We're apes--do apes go anyplace?"
  30. ^ a b Brownfield, Paul (December 21, 2002). "Comic genius Dangerfield still cutting jokes to thwart boredom". Journal - Gazette. Ft. Wayne, Ind. Los Angeles Times. p. 3.D. 
  31. ^ Rosemarie Jarski, ed. (2010). Funniest Thing You Never Said 2. Ebury Press. p. 501. ISBN 978-0091924515. 
  32. ^ Gary Wayne. "Rodney Dangerfield's grave (photo)". Seeing-stars.com. Retrieved 2012. 
  33. ^ "Rodney's Bio". rodney.com. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Neurosurgery Division to Present Jay Leno With Rodney Dangerfield Legacy Aw" (Press release). Regents of the University of California. September 14, 2005. Retrieved 2012. 
  35. ^ "Rodney's Respected by Tim". September 4, 2007. 
  36. ^ "Louie Anderson Illuminates The Night". CNN. October 19, 2010. 
  37. ^ "Comedian Chelsea Handler Receives Bennett Custom Recognition Award". Bennett Awards. February 26, 2013. 
  38. ^ http://snltranscripts.jt.org/04/04bdangerfield.phtml
  39. ^ reference to Legends: Rodney Dangerfield
  40. ^ Chen, Perry; Yael, Aviva (February 23, 2007). "Op-Art: All the Body's a Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007. 
  41. ^ "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," New York: National Broadcasting Company, May 29, 2009.
  42. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Weird/wireStory/widow-mural-rodney-dangerfield-flattering-45839505
  43. ^ http://www.lacitycollege.edu/academic/rodneydangerfield.html
  44. ^ http://www.dailynews.com/social-affairs/20170531/la-city-college-giving-comic-respect-with-rodney-dangerfield-institute
  45. ^ Stephens, Chuck (August 18, 2011). "The Killers Inside Me - From the Current - The Criterion Collection". The Criterion Collection. Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved 2017. 
  46. ^ Smith, Richard Harland. "The Projectionist (1971)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017. 
  47. ^ Mihoces, Gary (July 8, 2013). "The story behind Dangerfield's famous 'Caddyshack' line". USA Today. Retrieved 2017. 
  48. ^ It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs by Rodney Dangerfield. (c) 2004, HarperCollins Publishers.[2]
  49. ^ It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs by Rodney Dangerfield. (c) 2004, HarperCollins Publishers.[3]

External links


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