Thursday, October 7, 2004


"No respect — I don't get no respect at all. Are you kidding?"
Rodney Dangerfield

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Rodney Dangerfield, the bug-eyed comic whose self-deprecating one-liners brought him stardom in clubs, television and movies and made his lament "I don't get no respect" a catchphrase, died Tuesday. He was 82.
For television viewers, Rodney Dangerfield was best known for his stand-up routines on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and 'Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson'. He made over 70 appearances on 'The Tonight Show' which, if not a record, certainly must rank him up there in the top ten. He also hosted some HBO specials that showcased young talent that would become big stars after the exposure he provided: Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, Jim Carrey, and Roseanne.
Rodney pegged his own schtick on being the underdog and he cornered the market in getting no respect, no respect at all:
"When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother."
"When I was 3 years old, my parents got a dog. I was jealous of the dog, so they got rid of me."
"I remember the time I was kidnapped, and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof."
"I'm so ugly, when I was a kid, my father bought a new billfold, and, instead of my picture, he carried the picture of the kid who came with the wallet."
"I never got any respect from my old man. I said, 'Nobody likes me.' He said, 'Don't feel that way. Everybody hasn't met you yet.' "
"When my parents got divorced, there was a custody fight over me. ... and no one showed up."
"I never got girls when I was a kid. One girl told me, 'Come on over, there's nobody home.' I went over. There was nobody home."
"And my wife. As soon as I got married I knew I was in trouble. My in-laws sent me a thank-you note."
"My wife, let me tell you about my wife. She wants to have sex in the back seat of the car, but she wants me to drive."
"When we got married, the first thing my wife did was put everything under both names -- hers and her mother's."
"With my wife, I don't get no respect. The other night there was a knock on the front door. My wife told me to hide in the closet."
"The other night, she met me at the front door wearing a see-through negligee. The only trouble is she was coming home."
Younger audiences from the 1980s onwards embraced Rodney in much the same way they caught on to Tony Bennett and his music: Rodney was hip. His characters in the movies were rebellious: they smoked pot; they bucked the system; they were lewd, crude, and always got the last one-liner in.
But it's his life - as seen on TV - which we'd like to remember.
"When I started in show business, I played one club that was so far out,
My act was reviewed in Field and Stream."
Rodney Dangerfield
In October of 1996, Rodney was in New York City, probably playing a few clubs, when he encountered Jonathan Eliot and his friends. At the time, Mr. Eliot was in a relationship with a woman who treated him like a 'Kept Man'.
['The Single Guy']
Back on 'Thanksgiving', 1997, the family of 'Tool Time' star Tim Taylor got to meet Rodney at a Lions game when they were invited into the VIP skybox of the Silverdome.
['Home Improvement']
Rodney also made appearances on other talk shows which existed only in the TV Universe. For instance, he was a member of a panel discussion regarding 'Mercy Killing', during which I'm sure he had some keen observations about the subject.
['Night Stand with Dick Dietrich']
"With my wife, I get no respect. I fell asleep with a cigarette in my hand. She lit it."
"I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio."
"I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, 'There goes the neighborhood!' "
He also appeared on 'Cabana Chat' with Dixie and Pool Boy in order to plug his movie, 'Meet Wally Sparks'.
['Mad TV']
There were others in the TV Universe who looked like Rodney Dangerfield. For instance, there was Larry Burns, the illegitimate son of Montgomery Burns in Springfield. ('The Simpsons') And there was a now-deceased repairman named Artie who died with his boots on, Thanksgiving, 1996. ('Suddenly, Susan')
The re-discovery and heightend popularity of Rodney Dangerfield can be traced back to a specific event in the TV Universe - the Pepsi Syndrome crisis of 1979. Pepsi was spilled on the controls of a nuclear reactor, nearly causing a meltdown. When President Jimmy Carter paid an inspection visit to the site, he was exposed to massive doses of radiation which dramatically altered his cellular structure.
In the dark days that followed the critics, Rodney Dangerfield was called in as the go-to expert, the only one who could put the situation in proper perspective......
Rosalyn Carter: Where is Jimmy? I have a right to see him!
Ross Denton: Mrs. Carter, the president is recieving special treatment right now.
Rosalyn Carter: What kind of special treatment? Why can't I see him?
Ross Denton: Mrs. Carter, this is Dr. Edna Casey. Perhaps she can explain better than I what has happened to the president.
Dr. Edna Casey: Mrs. Carter, your husband was exposed to massive doses of radiation. Now this has affected the entire cell structure of his body and greatly accelerated the growth process.
Rosalyn Carter: Well, what does that mean?
Dr. Edna Casey: It means, Mrs. Carter, your husband, President Carter, has become [ camera zooms in on Dr. Edna Casey ] The amazing colossal president.
Rosalyn Carter: Well how big is he?
Dr. Edna Casey: Well Mrs. Carter, it's difficult to comprehend just how big he is but to give you some idea, we've asked comedian Rodney Dangerfield to come along today to help explain it to you. Rodney?
[ Rodney Dangerfield enters ]
Rodney Dangerfield: How do you do, how are you?
Ross Denton: Rodney, can you please tell us, how big is the president?
Rodney Dangerfield: Oh, he's a big guy, I'll tell you that, he's a big guy. I tell you he's so big, I saw him sitting in the George Washington bridge dangling his feet in the water! He's a big guy!
Rosalyn Carter: Oh my God! Jimmy! Oh God!
Rodney Dangerfield: Oh, he's big, I'll tell you that, boy. He's so big that when two girls make love to him at the same time, they never meet each other! He's a big guy, I'll tell you!
Rosalyn Carter: Oh no! Oh Jimmy! My Jimmy!
Rodney Dangerfield: I don't want to upset you lady, he's big, you know what I mean? Why he could have an affair with the Lincoln Tunnel! I mean, he's really high! He's big, I'll tell you! He's a big guy!
Rosalyn Carter: No! No! No!
Ross Denton: Rodney, thank you very much. You can go.
Rodney Dangerfield: It's my pleasure. He's way up there, lady! you know what I mean? [ goes off, leaving Rosalyn Carter very upset ]
['Saturday Night Live']

Rodney is gone now, hopefully to a place where he is finally getting his proper respect.

I, for one, loosen my tie in tribute.

(with thanks to the AP, IMDb,, and the SNL Transcripts site)

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