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Rodney Dangerfield was a stand-up comedian and actor known for his "I don't get no respect" routine. He starred in the hit movie comedies, Caddyshack and Back to School, during the 1980s.
Rodney Dangerfield - Standup (1:57)
Friends and colleagues of Rodney Dangerfield discuss his creative process and his library of jokes.
An overview of Rodney Dangerfield's career and persona.
Oliver Stone discusses Rodney Dangerfield's appetite for food-- and sex.
An exerpt from one Rodney Dangerfield's stand-up routines.
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Rodney Dangerfield (formerly Jacob Cohen) was born on November 22, 1921, in Babylon, New York. He started performing stand-up comedy in his teens as "Jack Roy," but finding that comedy didn't pay the bills, he spent the 1950s working as a salesman. Re-entering show business in the early 1960s as "Rodney Dangerfield,
"He who laughs last didn't get it in the first place."
" he got a little more respect. He opened Dangerfield's comedy club in the 1970s and starred in a series of hit comedy films in the 1980s including Caddyshack. Dangerfield died in 2004.
Actor and comedian Jacob Cohen was born on November 22, 1921, in Babylon, New York, the youngest of two children. His father, Phil Roy, was a comic and juggler who toured the vaudeville circuit. Roy abandoned the family shortly after Dangerfield's birth, leaving Dangerfield's mother to raise her children alone. To help the family scrape by, Rodney began selling ice cream on the beach and delivering groceries after school.
Dangerfield struggled through a difficult childhood. He was frequently the focus of torment from anti-Semitic teachers, and more affluent students. To cope, he began writing jokes and, at 17, he started performing his act at amateur nights in various clubs. By the age of 19, Dangerfield was performing his act full-time under the stage name Jack Roy, which he later made his legal name.
Dangerfield landed his first big gig telling jokes at a resort in upstate New York, where he performed for ten weeks. He earned $12 a week, plus room and board. Though he continued to land jobs at various comedy clubs, Dangerfield began driving delivery trucks and working as a singing waiter to make extra money. Despite bringing in as much as $300 a week, comedy didn't pay well enough, and Dangerfield struggled financially. In 1951, after meeting singer Joyce Indig, Dangerfield decided to give up show business. He and Indig married, moved to New Jersey, and had two children. To provide for his new family, Dangerfield became an aluminum siding salesman.
Dangerfield continued to write jokes for the next decade, however, even as he was gripped by clinical depression. His marriage also deteriorated and, by 1962, the couple finally divorced. They remarried again in 1963, but after years of struggle the relationship dissolved permanently in 1970.
In light of his troubled personal life, Dangerfield continued to feel drawn to comedy. In the early 1960s, he started working toward rehabilitating his career, still working as a salesman by day but doing stand-up at night. Afraid of more rejection, he began performing under the pseudonym Rodney Dangerfield, a reference to a joke by early comedian Jack Benny.
Dangerfield finally got his big break in the early 1970s, when The Ed Sullivan Show tapped him to perform. His act was a hit with audiences, and his "No Respect" bit became his signature. This led to regular appearances on the late-night show circuit, including performances on The Dean Martin Show and the Tonight Show throughout 1972 and 1973.
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