odney Dangerfield – born November 22, 1921, died October 5, 2004 – forever claimed that he got no respect…but his act fell apart when, upon his passing, few people who'd known him resisted the opportunity to speak highly of him.

Dangerfield's comedic success came relatively late in his life; he spent years as both a singing waiter and an aluminum siding salesman before hitting his stride in the late '60s and early '70s. He made appearances on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" and "The Dean Martin Show," but, reportedly, his "I don't get no respect" line came to him while he was watching "The Godfather," a film that wasn't released until 1972, when Dangerfield was almost 50. But once he created that loveable loser persona, Rodney started rolling.

Dangerfield was never afraid to give back to his fellow comedians. In 1969, he bought a Manhattan nightclub and named it Dangerfield's; it served as the starting ground for up-and-coming comedians from Jay Leno to Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld to Andrew Dice Clay.

In addition to the stand-up, Dangerfield burst into mainstream Hollywood when he co-starred in "Caddyshack," with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Ted Knight. His follow-up vehicle, "Easy Money," with Joe Pesci, wasn't as successful, but when he went "Back to School," he was on top of the world again. He would spend years trying to find another film to spotlight his talents as well, and although he came close on occasion, as with the kids' soccer comedy, "Ladybugs," the film which really put him on the map again – albeit in a different way than anyone would've expected – was Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers," which gave him a chance to play a dramatic role. He also made a classic appearance on "The Simpsons" as Montgomery Burns' illegitimate son, Larry. (When playing catch-up with his father, Larry reveals, "I was at the orphanage till I was 18, then I got my job at a souvenir stand. Oh, and once I saw a blimp.")

In his last few years, Dangerfield's film output was, shall we say, lacking in some quality control – "The 4th Tenor" was more or less a vanity project, and there's a reason why "My 5 Wives" and "Back by Midnight" went straight to video – but people still loved him. He had some serious health problems in 2003, one of which required that he undergo brain surgery to improve blood flow in preparation for heart valve replacement surgery. When asked how long he'd be hospitalized, he replied, "If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour-and-a-half." Fortunately, the brain surgery went well, and, though still far from the man he used to be, in 2004, Dangerfield nonetheless went all out to promote his autobiography, "It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs."

Unfortunately, however, the heart valve replacement surgery did not go as swimmingly. After spending several weeks in a coma, followed by brief periods of awareness, Dangerfield died in late 2004…but lest you think he's been forgotten, consider this: on the one-year anniversary of his passing, Rodney's widow, Joan, marked the occasion – which she described as honoring his first year of immortality – by having a plane skywrite the word "RESPECT" over Hollywood.

Essential Albums

For as well known as Dangerfield was for his stand-up, he released surprisingly few albums…but the one to get is the inevitably-titled No Respect! And the title track of Rappin' Rodney is classic on some level. Beware the album Romeo Rodney, however, unless you want to hear the 80-year-old Dangerfield crooning "Strangers in the Night"; it's a collection of Rodney doing a few of his favorite numbers…and while it's funny, it's not ha-ha funny.

Comedy Discography

No Respect! (1980)

Rappin' Rodney (1983)

Loser (1990)

What's In A Name (1995)

TV Series

"Not Necessarily the News" (1985)

"The Simpsons" (1996)

"Suddenly Susan" (1996)

"Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" (1997)

"Phil of the Future" (2004)

"Still Standing" (2004)


"It's Not Easy Bein' Me : A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs" (2004)

"No Respect" (1995)

"I couldn't stand my wife's cooking, so I opened a restaurant" (1972)


"The Projectionist" (1971)

"Caddyshack" (1980)

"Easy Money" (1983)

"Back to School" (1986)

"Rover Dangerfield" (1991)

"Ladybugs" (1992)

"Natural Born Killers" (1994)

"Meet Wally Sparks" (1997)

"Rusty: A Dog's Tale" (1998)

"The Godson" (1998)

"My 5 Wives" (2000)

"Little Nicky" (2000)

"Back By Midnight" (2002)

"The 4th Tenor" (2002)

"Angels with Angles" (2005)

Famous Last Words

I don't get no respect. I played hide-and-seek, and they wouldn't even look for me.

Hey, doll. Could you scare up another round for our table over here? And tell the cook this is low grade dog food. I've had better food at the ballgame, you know? This steak still has marks from where the jockey was hitting it.

Last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it.

Oh, this your wife, huh? A lovely lady. Hey baby, you must've been something before electricity.

Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.

A girl phoned me the other day and said 'Come on over, there's nobody home.' I went over. Nobody was home.

My wife's jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.

When I was born, the doctor said to my father, 'I'm sorry, we did everything we could, but he still pulled thru.'

One day as I came home early from work, I saw a guy jogging naked. I said to the guy, 'Hey buddy, why are you doing that?' He said, 'Because you came home early.'

Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? Oh, it looks good on you, though.