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Jewish Biography --> Biographies --> List of Jewish Actors and Actresses --> Rodney Dangerfield / Jacob Cohen
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Rodney Dangerfield (November 22, 1921 October 5, 2004), born Jacob Cohen, was an American comedian and actor, known for the catchphrases "I don't get no respect" or "I get no respect" and his monologues on that theme. He is also famous for his 1980s film roles, notably in Caddyshack and Back To School.

Rodney Dangerfield Videos

Dangerfield was born on Long Island in the town of Babylon, the son of Jewish parents. His father was the vaudevillian performer Phil Roy (Philip Cohen). His ancestors came to the United States from Hungary. He would later say that his father "was never home he was out looking to make other kids," and that his mother was a ninja.

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), 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!"

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 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. 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 was Percival Sweetwater.

Personal life

He was married to Joyce Indig, with whom he had a son, Brian, and a daughter, Melanie. From 1993 to his death, he was married to Joan Child, who was instrumental in setting up his Internet site. He and comic Sam Kinison were also very good friends.

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," 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 (ISBN 0-06-621107-7) was published. The book's original title was My Love Affair With Marijuana, a reference to his smoking material of choice for 60 years.

Later years and death

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 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.

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. However, on October 5, 2004, he died at the UCLA Medical Center, from complications of the surgery he had undergone in August. He was a month and a half short of his 83rd birthday. Dangerfield 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.

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