It’s ironical that owning something which is seen as unwarranted established someone’s identity. A black suit, a red tie and the signature catchphrase- I don’t get any respect- garnered much respect and recognition for the iconic and legendary comedian of all times, Rodney Dangerfield.
The phrase owned by the comedian was such a hit that his album names No Respect won him a Grammy Award in 1981. However, the story behind him developing this catchphrase is not entirely hilarious, but rather sad. Still, despite all the hardships he has been gone through, he was able to make people laugh through his self-deprecating humour till he died after completing 82 years of age in 2004.
Dangerfield’s life was not all wines and roses
Born in Babylon, New York, he was christened as Jacob Cohen by his family. He moved to Queens in Kew Garden with his mother, Dorothy Teitelbaum and sister when he was ten years old. Phil Roy, juggler and comedian, abandoned the family soon after Dangerfield’s birth. Jacob’s childhood was hard and he grew up with no love and care as per his widow Joan.
At many interviews, he admitted being brought up unsupervised. He went through a harrowing experience of child molestation at the tender age of 5 which he revealed in his memoir Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs.
The biography was published in 2004 and was a bestselling book. Dangerfield gave many interviews and one of the incidents from his life is particularly worth mentioning. He said he cannot tell the effect of molestation on him as it affects everyone differently. He could have become more responsible and nicer or he may have spiralled down to a life of self-harm and debauchery. But, as optimistic as he always seemed, he sees himself being born with a happy bone.
He was responsible enough to support the family when he was in his teens. He did odd jobs most of the time like selling ice cream by the beach, delivering goods, guarding the newsstand, selling tickets outside the theatre and working as a driver for a fishery.
Joan once told The New York Times that his family did not give him any support rather exploited him for his good heart. His mother once advised him to open a savings account for saving money to buy a football uniform. His mother later stole his money which broke his heart.
After publishing his biography in 2004, Dangerfield confessed that he would choose a different family for himself that would love him and support him, but he would like to remain the same as he is in this life. His theme for No Respect has come from his experience as a child as he did not get any respect or love from anyone. It was his coping mechanism for saying no one liked him. But this phrase eventually offered him some salvation.