Rodney Dangerfield was a comedian that rose to superstardom after experiencing a lifetime’s worth of troubles. The comedian had already made attempts at fame during his young adulthood before retiring to raise his two children. However, the second time proved the charm for the comedian, who ended up rising to prominence after getting back in the game. The fame was much deserved, as Rodney had to put up with a great deal of disrespect to get there! Join Facts Verse as we explore how Rodney Dangerfield used his tragic life to make people laugh.
Rodney Dangerfield rose to fame with the tagline “I don’t get no respect”. Rodney came up with the tagline in his 40s after a lifetime of getting no respect. The comedian had previously made a bid for stardom during his 20s before retiring to care for his two children. When he came back onto the comedy scene, he did so with a new look and his new signature catchphrase, the combination of which ended up rocketing the middle-aged comedian to stardom!
Rodney never shied away from painting himself as a pathetic figure to the audience. He was a relatable everyman and someone that the audience could project their own insecurities on. When Rodney expressed that he didn’t get any respect, the audience could relate! Besides Rodney’s nervous demeanor and self-deprecating comedy, there was also his physical appearance. When Rodney came back on the scene in his 40s with his new gimmick, he made sure that his clothes reflected his intended pathetic nature.
On the stage, Rodney Dangerfield was always sweaty and jittery. For many, it was hard to tell if this was part of the comedian’s act or simply the way he acted in real life. Most likely, it was a combination of the two. Rodney certainly had many anxieties that plagued him during his lifetime, and he channeled these into his comedy. However, that doesn’t mean that the beloved comedian was a completely tragic figure. Instead, he was simply a man with a troubled life that managed to turn that trouble around with his comedy.
Rodney had practiced comedy to little avail throughout his 20s. It was during this first period working as a comedian that he ended up meeting the woman that was to become his first wife, Joyce Indig. The two would later start a family, though their tumultuous relationship made it so that Rodney ended up doing most of the parenting. After retiring from comedy to raise his two children, Rodney went into business as a paint salesman.
In 1963, at the age of 42, Rodney decided to make a second bid for comedic stardom. This bid proved much more successful than the first and eventually resulted in the comedian becoming a superstar. However, the success didn’t happen overnight. Rodney began appearing in television commercials, including a memorable stint as a spokesperson for Lite beer. The comedian eventually got a gig hosting Saturday Night Live, and began releasing successful comedy albums of material with his new persona.
In the early 1980s, Rodney rose to more prominence than ever when he appeared in the film Caddyshack alongside SNL stars Chevy Chase and Billy Murray. Rodney’s appearance in that movie remains one of his most iconic performances in a feature film and solidified him as an icon in the eyes of much of the public. Rodney played a rich regular at a country club. Instead of taking advantage of Rodney’s more pathetic attributes, his role in Caddyshack took advantage of the comedian’s skills as an insult comic.
Besides his role in Caddyshack, Rodney also received a great deal of attention from his various appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The comedian would make an appearance on the show whenever he had enough new material to perform, and he would also give some candid interviews. This gave the audience the chance to see both sides of the comedian, and he quickly grew to become a favorite of both Johnny Carson and the audience.
There was a lot of truth to the idea that Rodney didn’t get much respect. This made Rodney come across as authentic to the audience, even if his demeanor and appearance were oftentimes slightly exaggerated. There were many people in Rodney’s life that didn’t show him much respect, though he showed them all when he became an unlikely comedic superstar during his later years! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! While you’re at it, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Rodney Dangerfield was born on Long Island in 1921. His mother and father had a turbulent relationship, as his father was a vaudeville comedian that was rarely around. Although his father wasn’t a big part of Rodney’s life, his vaudeville comedy proved incredibly influential over the young boy. As well, his mother was always trying to push his sister into show business, which further expressed to young Rodney that show business was all there was to aspire to in life. Because of this, the young boy began developing comedic routines and dreaming of making people laugh.
With his mother and sister, Rodney lived on Long Island until the age of ten. In 1931, during the hardest years of the Great Depression, Rodney’s mother sent him and his sister to live with their grandmother in the Bronx. Later, Rodney’s mother came back for them and took them to go live in Queens.
During his time in Queens, Rodney didn’t feel like he fit in. His family lived in a wealthier area, and Rodney had to work as a delivery boy to help make ends meet. He was said to have made deliveries after his school hours to some of his wealthier classmates, which made him incredibly embarrassed. Even during Rodney’s earliest days, he simply wasn’t getting a whole lot of respect from his peers!
Besides his family’s lack of wealth, Rodney also faced disrespect at a young age due to anti-Semitism and the fact that his parents had become separated. Around the age of 15, Rodney began to channel the resentment he felt towards this lack of respect into joke writing. Years later, at the age of 19, Rodney landed his first official gig working as a comedian. He began performing in the Catskill Mountains, which is where many comedians from the time period got their start in the industry. Eventually, Rodney found minor success as a comedian in the area, though he hadn’t yet risen to the prominence that he would achieve during his later years.
During his first period as a comedian, Rodney met Joyce, and the two eventually decided to start a family. Rodney then temporarily quit show business before later making his superstar comeback! Even while Rodney was away from show business, he still kept busy writing jokes. Some of the jokes that Rodney wrote during this time period ended up being sold to notable comedians, such as Joan Rivers and Jackie Mason. However, there was always a part of Rodney that made him feel like he was the one who should be performing the material. Eventually, he decided to start performing again.
Rodney began appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967 after Ed Sullivan had been blown away by the comedian’s audition. At this point, Rodney had developed his iconic catchphrase and relatable demeanor. 1968 saw Rodney release the album I Don’t Get No Respect, which capitalized on his newfound image to immense success.
In 1969, Rodney began feeling like being out on the road performing comedy wasn’t leaving enough time for his two kids. Because of this, he decided to open up his own comedy venue near his home. Many balked at Rodney’s decision, saying that it was impractical for a comedian to try and operate his own nightclub. Despite the naysayers, starting his own nightclub ended up being a successful venture for Rodney. He entered into the 1970s bigger than ever. Though he had to borrow a quarter of a million dollars from investors, they all made their money back.
It was important for Rodney to be there for his kids after the troublesome childhood that he had suffered. In addition to the relative absence of a father figure, Rodney also rarely ever received affection from his mother. His mother was oftentimes aloof and seemed more focused on grooming his sister for stardom. Little did his mother know that Rodney was going to be the one to become a superstar! Rodney did his best to be there for his two children, even though his relationship with their mother was never quite perfect.
Rodney divorced his first wife twice. The two first divorced in 1962 and then remarried the next year before divorcing again in 1970. In the early 1970s, Joyce passed away. In 1963, Rodney married his second wife Joan, and the two stayed together until Rodney’s death in 2004. In 1994, Rodney appeared in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, marking the actor’s first and only dramatic performance in a film.
Over the course of his life, Rodney Dangerfield always suffered from heart problems. He had to undergo double bypass surgery in 2000 and found himself back in the hospital undergoing arterial brain surgery in 2003. The comedian continued working through these health struggles until August of 2004, when he suffered a small stroke after having a heart valve replacement surgery and fell into a coma. He died in October of that year, with the official cause of death being cited as surgical complications. At the time of his death, the beloved comedian was 82 years old. Although Rodney had to suffer through quite a bit to attain it, the iconic entertainer certainly died with the peoples’ respect.
Although Rodney Dangerfield had a difficult life before achieving unlikely superstardom in his middle age, the comedian has gone on to become one of the preeminent icons of comedic history. Comment down below to share if you were surprised to learn about how much truth there was to Rodney’s comedy or if you were impressed at how much the comedian sacrificed to care for his two children. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!