Rodney Dangerfield dies at 82
LOS ANGELES – Rodney Dangerfield knew “I don’t get no respect” was funny when it cracked up New Yorkers, notorious for being tough. From there on out, the one-liner became his catchphrase – and the pudgy, bug-eyed comic became the perennial loser.Dangerfield, 82, died Tuesday afternoon at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, where he had undergone heart surgery in August, said publicist Kevin Sasaki.After the operation, Sasaki said, the comedian suffered a small stroke and developed infectious and abdominal complications. He had been in a coma but regained consciousness in the past week.
“When Rodney emerged, he kissed me, squeezed my hand and smiled for his doctors,” Dangerfield’s wife, Joan, said in the statement. The comic is also survived by two children from a previous marriage.Clad in a black suit, red tie and white shirt with collar that seemed too tight, Dangerfield brought down the house with the likes of “When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother”; “When I started in show business, I played one club that was so far out my act was reviewed in Field and Stream;” and “Every time I get in an elevator, the operator says the same thing to me: ‘Basement?”‘In a 1986 interview, he explained the origin of his “respect” trademark:”I had this joke: ‘I played hide and seek; they wouldn’t even look for me.’ To make it work better, you look for something to put in front of it: I was so poor, I was so dumb, so this, so that. I thought, ‘Now what fits that joke?’ Well, ‘No one liked me’ was all right. But then I thought, a more profound thing would be, ‘I get no respect.”‘
He tried it at a New York club, and the joke drew a bigger response than ever. He kept the phrase in the act, and it seemed to establish a bond with his audience.Dangerfield is most remembered for 1980’s “Caddyshack,” in which he held his own with such comics as Chevy Chase, Ted Knight and Bill Murray.He would later gain more film roles and the respect of fans who howled at his jokes and fellow comedians who admired his talent.
“For a guy who got no respect, I will miss him and he always had my respect. I love him,” comedian George Lopez said Tuesday in a statement.Flowers were placed on his star on Hollywood Boulevard after word of his death, and the marquee of The Improv, a comedy club where Dangerfield often performed, read “Rest In Peace Rodney.””He was so confident,” Teller, half of the magic duo “Penn & Teller,” said. “He was Rodney and he could do anything.”Dangerfield was born Jacob Cohen on Nov. 22, 1921, on New York’s Long Island.
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