Rodney Dangerfield’s Biography, Net worth and Career
The stage name “Rodney Dangerfield” was used by New York stand-up comedian Jacob Rodney Cohen. He was well known for his self-deprecating humor, which included his perceptions of himself as being stupid, ugly, improper for a sexual partner, and frequently the victim.
His motto, “I don’t get no respect,” was a reflection of his childhood. Growing up as “Jacob Cohen” in a working-class Jewish family on Long Island in the 1920s and 1930s, he was a “ugly duckling” without a father.
When was Rodney Dangerfield born?
On November 22, 1921, in Deer Park, New York, Rodney Dangerfield was given the name Jacob Cohen.
Career of Rodney Dangerfield
Jacob Cohen started writing comedy at the age of 15, and by the time he was 19, he was earning $12 per week doing stand-up in the infamous Catskills circuit.
At that stage, he had already legally changed his name to “Jack Roy.” His father, vaudevillian actor Phillip Cohen, better known by his stage name “Phil Roy,” neglected his wife and kids as a result of his frequent absences.
It is unknown why young Jacob chose to use Rodney Dangerfield’s stage name—Jack Roy—instead of his given name. This decision was made before Rodney Dangerfield passed away.
Jack Roy quickly began working many sales jobs after realizing that $12 a week was not enough to support him and his first wife, Joyce Indig. The couple remarried in 1963 after divorcing the previous year.
But Jack Roy, now known as Jacob Cohen, never gave up on comedy. At the Polish Falcon in Brooklyn, where he was a singing waiter, he first met the show’s host, Sally Marr.
She introduced him to her son, another struggling comic. They started exchanging ideas and funny stories with several other newcomers in a “Broadway” drugstore called “Hanson’s.”
Here, Lenny Bruce, a performer better known by his stage name “Rodney Dangerfield,” Marr’s son, helped him create the downtrodden and despairing “Rodney Dangerfield” image.
While working as “Jack Roy” by day and panhandling as “Rodney Dangerfield” at night on “Broadway,” he honed his theatrical act (a name taken from a Jack Benny character from the 1940s).
He worked hard to hone his on-stage persona—the “ugly schmuck” who never seemed to get a break—and to execute it perfectly.
After his debut in 1967, Rodney Dangerfield made a total of 15 additional appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
He made 72 appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” 47 on “The Merv Griffin Show,” 28 films with Dean Martin, and more than 30 more motion pictures, including Oliver Stone’s surprising 1994 film “Natural Born Killers.”
The Wife of Rodney Dangerfield
He married his first wife, Joyce Indig, in 1949. 1962 saw their divorce. But as soon as he realized his mistake, he remarried her in 1963.
In 1970, they split up once more, and Dangerfield was alone for 23 years before remarrying Joan Child in 1993.
This was his third marriage. Joan, who was 32 years his junior, still plans memorial ceremonies and fundraising events in her husband’s honor.