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An American comic icon tells the story of his second–act rise from obscurity to multimedia stardom.
"When I was a kid," writes Rodney Dangerfield, "I worked tough places in show business––places like Fonzo's Knuckle Room. Or Aldo's, formerly Vito's, formerly Nunzio's. That was a tough joint. I looked at the menu. They had broken leg of lamb." For once, one of America's most beloved comic icons isn't kidding. Dangerfield has seen every aspect of the entertainment industry: the rough–and–tumble nightclubs, the backstage gag–writing sessions, the drugs, the hookers, the lousy day jobs – and the red–carpet star treatment. As he traces his route from a poor childhood on Long Island to his enshrinement as a comedy legend, he takes readers on a roller–coaster ride through a life that has been alternately touching, sordid, funny, raunchy, and uplifting – equal parts "Little Orphan Annie" and "Caligula." And unlike most celebrity autobiographers, he seems to have no qualms about delivering the unfiltered whole story, warts and all.
Dangerfield's personal story is also a rollicking show business tale, full of marquee name–droppings (Adam Sandler, Sam Kinison, Jim Carrey, Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld) and good stories about same. Defying the old saws about the fleeting nature of fame and the dearth of second acts in American life, Dangerfield transformed himself from a debt–ridden aluminium–siding salesman named Jack Roy to a multimedia superstar – and stayed an icon for decades. His catchphrase – "Iget no respect" – has entered the lexicon, and he remains a visible cultural presence and perennial talk–show guest.
Dangerfield's hilarious and inspiring musings should thrill comedy fans and pop–culture watchers, and his second–act comeback will strike a chord with readers of all stripes. Maybe he'll even get some respect.
A Vegas headliner for 20-plus years, Dangerfield became a huge comedic success while maintaining his image as a hassled everyman. He is, says Carrey, "as funny as a carbon-based life form can be." After writing I Couldn't Stand My Wife's Cooking, So I Opened a Restaurant; I Don't Get No Respect; and No Respect, he now presents this anecdotal autobiography, effectively blending honesty and humor. He was born Jacob Cohen in 1921 to a vaudevillian father constantly on the road and a "coldhearted," "selfish" mother: "I guess that's why I went into show business-to get some love." As Jack Roy, he began performing in his teens, struggled in clubs across the country but quit in 1949 to spend 12 years as an aluminum-siding salesman. At 40, he changed his name and his act: "I was older and wiser, yeah, but I was funnier too." In a major comeback, he made 70 Tonight Show appearances and opened his own nightclub in 1969, followed by TV specials and commercials, albums and hit movies. Writing with hip, showbiz savvy and a backstage bawdiness, he regales with tales of Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman and many more, and devotes full chapters to sex and drugs. Sidebar jokes, relevant to the text, appear throughout, along with cartoons and b&w photos. Agent, Chris Calhoun. (On sale May 25) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.