At Last, Respect:
An Obituary for a Comic,
Rodney Dangerfield, 1921-2004
Compiled Entirely from Trivia Gleaned from
the Internet Movie Database’s Biographical Page for the Actor
Jacob Cohen was born in Babylon, New York, in 1921.
At some point, he adopted the stage name Rodney Dangerfield. His trademark bit was self-deprecating one-liners.
His first big break was on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” a program he returned to 15 times. He made 70 appearances on “The Tonight Show.”
Through his HBO shows from Dangerfield's, he introduced Jim Carrey, Roseanne, Louie Anderson, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Rita Rudner, Sam Kinison, Robert Townsend, Bob Saget, and Jeff Foxworthy to TV.
Wanting to remain near his children, he opened the now-legendary Manhattan comedy club that bears his name.
In 1949, he married Joyce Indig. They have two children, Brian and Melanie. They were divorced in 1961. Decades later, he would open Dangerfield’s, a comedy club in New York City, in order to be closer to his children.
Thanks to the HBO comedy series broadcast from Dangerfield’s, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Sam Kinison got their big breaks on television. Unfortunately, so did Rita Rudner, Jeff Foxworthy, Roseanne, Tim Allen, Louie Anderson, and Bob Saget.
His album, No Respect, won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording in 1980. His single, “Rappin’ Rodney,” reached the No. 89 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983.
On December 26th, 1993, he married Joan Child, a Mormon 30 years, 11 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days his junior.
In 1995, he launched Rodney.com, the first official Web site for an entertainer. Thanks to his pioneering spirit, now even Carrot Top is online.
The première of his 1997 film, Meet Wally Sparks, was held in the small town of Daingerfield, Texas, where a street was then named after him. Later that year, he for the first time spoke openly of his lifelong depression, although his previous cries for help were pretty thinly veiled in his comedy material.
On November 22nd, 2001, his 80th birthday, he suffered a mild heart attack. On April 8th, 2003, Mr. Dangerfield underwent brain surgery to improve his body’s blood flow in preparation for an upcoming heart-valve replacement surgery. After regaining consciousness from the surgery, his first request was to watch “The Jerry Springer Show.” This is probably a popular request following brain surgery.
On August 24th, his blood then flowing properly, he had his heart-valve replacement. In May of that year, between his brain and heart surgeries, his autobiography, It Ain’t Easy Being Me was published.
It is not easy to be someone undergoing heart and brain surgeries.
His trademark white button-down shirt and red necktie hang in permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.