Rodney Dangerfield, who got “no respect” in life, got some after death.
A mural dedicated to the late marquee comic was unveiled in his Kew Gardens, Queens neighborhood. Designed by Italian artist Francesca Robicci and appearing on the back wall of an area movie theater, the mural pictures the comedian, with rumpled suit and puckered mug, next to a write-out of his famous phrase, “I don’t get no respect.”
“Local legends, local businesses, they get lost in the everyday hustle and bustle of the city,” said Noah Sheroff, whose organization 501 See Streets initiated the project, in an interview with cable news channel NY1. “It just brings light and lightness … and it brings well known personality and helps to remind people about the impact they had in the world,” mused Kew Gardens resident Grace Anker.
Dangerfield was born on Long Island, but spent much of his childhood in Kew Gardens, where his family moved when he was ten years old. He attended the neighborhood’s local public schools, P.S. 99 and Richmond Hill High School, and lived above what’s now a popular bar.
He traced a quixotic path to stardom. After an ill-fated comedy stint in the ’40s, he returned to the business in the ’60s, starting in Catskills summer resorts and making it big on the Ed Sullivan Show. Afterward, he took his stand-up act around the country, eventually becoming a fixture on the Tonight Show and founding a self-named comedy club, Dangerfield’s, in Manhattan. He also acted in ’80s movie classics like Back to School and Caddyshack.
Until his death in 2004, the funny man always retained his trademark, outer-boroughs sense of being on the outs. In one stand-up routine, he recalled, “I was an ugly child. I got lost on the beach. I asked a cop if he could find my parents. He said, ‘I don’t know. There’s lots of places for them to hide.’”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.