RODNEY DANGERFIELD Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Name: Rodney Dangerfield                                                                       
Pseudonym: Jack Roy                                                                           
Birth name: Jacob Cohen                                                                       
Born: 22 November 1921 Babylon, New York, U.S.                                                 
Died: 5 October 2004 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                             
Rodney Dangerfield (November 22, 1921 - October 5, 2004), born Jacob Cohen, was               
an American comedian and actor, best known for the catchphrase "I don't get no                 
respect" and his monologues on that theme.                                                     
He was born on Long Island in the town of Babylon, the son of vaudevillian Phil               
Roy (Philip Cohen). He would later say that his father "was never home — he was             
out looking to make other kids”, and that his mother "brought him up all wrong”.           
As a teenager, he got his start writing jokes for standup comics; he became one               
himself at 19 under the name Jack Roy. He struggled financially for nine years,               
at one point performing as a singing waiter (he was fired), 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!" In the early 1960s he started down what                   
would be a long road toward rehabilitating his career, still working as a                     
salesman by day. 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. He took the name Rodney Dangerfield, which had been used as               
a comical name by Jack Benny on his radio program at least as early as the                     
December 15, 1946 broadcast and later as a pseudonym by Ricky Nelson on the TV                 
program The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. However, Jack Roy remained his                   
legal name, as he mentioned from time to time. During a question and answer                   
session with the audience on the album "No Respect," Rodney joked that his real               
name is Percival Sweetwater.                                                                   
Fate intervened one Sunday night in New York, when The Ed Sullivan Show needed a               
last-minute replacement for another act. This live, weekly talent show, hosted                 
by the very influential Sullivan, could make or break a show-business career.                 
The middle-aged, husky Dangerfield, with his pessimistic monologue, was a                     
contrast to the younger, trendier comics usually seen on the Sullivan show, and               
this alone gave him a novelty value. His success was assured when he told his                 
very first "no respect" joke: "I don't get no respect. I played hide-and-seek,                 
and they wouldn't even look for me”. Dangerfield would also tell conventional               
jokes in his act: "I grew up in a tough neighborhood. Tough neighborhood!                     
Teachers would get notes from parents saying, 'Please excuse Johnny for the next               
5 to 10 years!'" Dangerfield became the surprise hit of the show.                             
Finally established as a reliable stand-up comedian, he would write thousands                 
more of these self-depreciating jokes. Dangerfield began headlining shows in Las               
Vegas and made frequent encore appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He became a               
regular on The Dean Martin Show and appeared on The Tonight Show 70 times.                     
He bought a Manhattan nightclub in 1969 in order to remain near his children                   
after their mother had died. "Dangerfield's" was the venue for an HBO show                     
which helped popularize many stand-up comics, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim                   
Carrey, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Rita Rudner,                   
Andrew Dice Clay and Bob Saget.                                                               
His comedy album No Respect won a Grammy Award. One of his TV specials featured               
a musical number, "Rappin' Rodney”, which soon became one of the first MTV music             
His career peaked during the early 1980s, when he became a movie star. His                     
appearance in Caddyshack led to starring roles in Easy Money and Back To School.               
In Back to School, Dangerfield's writing described the character Lou (Burt Young)             
as "nice and tough" — he put one son through college and another through a wall.             
(On The Tonight Show, he applied this same description to his doctor, Dr. Vinny               
He played an abusive father in Natural Born Killers in a scene where he wrote                 
his own lines.                                                                                 
In 1994, Rodney Dangerfield won an American Comedy Award for lifetime creative                 
achievement. He was also recognized by the Smithsonian Institution, which put                 
one of his trademark white shirts and red ties on display. When asked about the               
honor, he joked that the museum was using his shirt to clean Charles Lindbergh's               
He was married twice to Joyce Indig — from 1949 to 1962, and again from 1963 to             
1970 — with whom he had a son named Brian and a daughter named Melanie. From                 
1993 to his death he was married to Joan Child, who was instrumental in setting               
up his Internet site.                                                                         
The confusion of Dangerfield's stage persona with his real-life personality was               
a conception that he long resented. While Child described him as "classy,                     
gentlemanly, sensitive and intelligent" (yet he can make his eyes go big and                   
small within seconds), people who met the comedian nonetheless treated him                     
as the belligerent loser whose character he adopted in performance. In 2004,                   
Dangerfield's autobiography, It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect                 
but Plenty of Sex and Drugs was published. The book's                                         
original title was My Love Affair With Marijuana, a reference to the drug he                   
smoked daily for 60 years.                                                                     
In 1995, his application for membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts                 
and Sciences was rejected. At the time, he commented on how then-president of                 
AMPAS, Roddy McDowall, who acted in a monkey suit in the Planet of the Apes                   
series of films, possibly felt that Dangerfield was not dignified enough to join               
the organization. AMPAS would later offer membership, an offer he declined.                   
Dangerfield lived in his later years under his legal name "Jack Roy”, which he               
used in some of his skits, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where he raised               
his two children. The family owned at least one dog, which father or daughter (or             
both) walked regularly. Despite living inside a metropolitan city, Dangerfield                 
was not a noticeable figure. He was said to have liked strolling to the New York               
Health and Racquet Club in his robe and he always had a touring bus (a rental)                 
readily parked outside his apartment building.                                                 
Chris Rock once remarked that he was in Catch A Rising Star one night when "Rodney             
showed up in his robe“. Rock said, "He must have lived down the block" —                   
Dangerfield's was less than a mile from home, a place he could be found most                   
anytime he wasn't touring. Despite his stage persona, he was generally well-respected         
in his daily life, very private and secluded, but polite if engaged.                           
On April 8, 2003, 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 one-liner of the type for which he was               
known: When asked how long he would be hospitalized, he said, "If all goes well,               
about a week. If not, about an hour-and-a-half”.                                             
In September 2004, it was revealed that Dangerfield had been in a coma for                     
several weeks. Afterward, he had been breathing on his own and had been showing               
signs of awareness when visited by friends. However, on October 5, 2004, he died               
at the UCLA Medical Center, where he had undergone the surgery in August. He was               
interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. In                     
keeping with his "No Respect" persona, his headstone reads simply, "Rodney                     
Dangerfield - There goes the neighborhood”.                                                 
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 Native American                 
butterfly-release ceremony led by Farrah Fawcett.