Rodney Dangerfield was born in Babylon, Long Island, USA, the
son of vaudevillian Phil Roy (Philip Cohen). As a teenager,
Rodney got his start writing jokes for standup comics; he became
one himself at 19, and struggled financially for nine years
under the name Jack Roy before giving up show business to
support his wife.
Rodney Dangerfield returned to stand-up in the early 1960s; to give his career a fresh start, he changed his name to Rodney Dangerfield. The movie The Godfather inspired his trademark line about the lack of respect he received. Headlining performances in Las Vegas and dozens of performances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dean Martin Show kept him in the public eye. Dangerfield made 70 appearances on The Tonight Show. Dangerfield also made an appearance on The Simpsons as Mr. Burns' son, Larry. Larry Burns was modeled after Dangerfield, including his tie tug.
Wanting to remain near his children after his divorce from their mother, he became the owner of a Manhattan nightclub in 1969; the nightclub, "Dangerfield's", was the venue for an HBO show and helped popularize many stand-up comics, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Rita Rudner, and Bob Saget.
Rodney Dangerfield's career peaked during the early 1980s, with his appearance in Caddyshack and the release of his Grammy Award-winning comedy album No Respect.
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.
In 1995, Rodney's application for membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was rejected. At the time, Dangerfield 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 wasn't dignified enough to join the organization. AMPAS would later change their decision and offer membership, an offer he declined.
In 2004, Rodney Dangerfield's autobiography, It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of S-- and Drugs (ISBN 0066211077) was published. The book's original title was My Love Affair With Marijuana, a reference to the drug he smoked daily for sixty years.
On April 8, 2003, Rodney 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 he was known for: responding to 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 he had been in a coma for several weeks. Afterward, Rodney Dangerfield 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.
Rodney Dangerfield had two children, Jasmine Ashley and Savannah Elizabeth, during his marriage to Joan Anderson.
Rodney Dangerfield is survived by his wife, Joan, and two children, Jasmine with husband Marko and Savannah with husband Torniu, from a previous marriage.
This Rodney Dangerfield Biography Page is Copyright Biography World © 2004 - 2010