Rodney Dangerfield Biography

Rodney Dangerfield, born Jacob Rodney Cohen, was a New York stand-up comedian known for his self-deprecating humor. Despite a difficult upbringing as an “ugly duckling” in a poor Jewish family, Dangerfield persevered in the comedy circuit, eventually gaining recognition in the late 1960s. His appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” catapulted him to stardom, and he went on to headline in Vegas and own his own club. Dangerfield also made appearances on chat shows and starred in popular movies such as “Caddyshack” and “Easy Money.”

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Jacob Rodney Cohen
  • Died At Age: 82
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Joan Child (m. 1993), Joyce Indig (m. 1949; div. 1962)
    • Father: Phillip Cohen
    • Mother: Dorothy
  • Born Country: United States
  • Quotes By Rodney Dangerfield
  • Jewish Comedians
  • Died on: October 5, 2004
  • Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Ancestry: Hungarian American
  • Cause of Death: Complications Following Heart Surgery
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers

heading: Early Career

Jacob Cohen began his comedy career at the age of 15 and quickly found himself performing in the Catskills circuit by the age of 19. At this time, he changed his name to “Jack Roy,” taking inspiration from his father’s stage name, “Phil Roy.” Despite his early success, Jack Roy struggled to make a living on the $12 a week he earned. To support his family and later himself and his first wife, Joyce Indig, he took on various sales jobs.

heading: Meeting Lenny Bruce and Becoming Rodney Dangerfield

While working as a singing waiter at the “Polish Falcon” club in Brooklyn, Jack Roy met Sally Marr, the MC of the show. Marr introduced him to her son, Lenny Bruce, another struggling comedian. Together, they formed a group of new talents who would gather at a drugstore called “Hanson’s” in Broadway. It was during this time that Marr’s son helped Jack Roy develop his stage persona as the forlorn and downtrodden “Rodney Dangerfield.” Jack Roy continued to work as “Jack Roy” during the day and performed as “Rodney Dangerfield” at night.

heading: Career Success

Rodney Dangerfield’s career took off after his first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967. He went on to make multiple appearances on the show, as well as on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, “The Merv Griffin Show,” and in various movies. Surprisingly, he even appeared in Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” in 1994.

heading: Personal Life

Rodney Dangerfield, born Jacob Cohen, was married three times. He first married Joyce Indig in 1949, but they divorced in 1962. They remarried in 1963 but divorced again in 1970. Dangerfield remained single for 23 years until he married his second wife, Joan Child, in 1993. Joan, who was 32 years younger than Dangerfield, continues to honor his memory through memorials and charity activities.

Rodney Dangerfield and Joyce Indig had two children together, Brian Roy and Melanie Roy. Dangerfield passed away on October 5, 2004, at the age of 82.

heading: Quotes

  • “Me, I…”

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