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New York in the 1960s

from The New York Times:

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A plaque honoring the comedian Rodney Dangerfield, a Queens native, being installed in a garden next to the Kew Gardens station on the Long Island Rail Road. Its official unveiling is scheduled for Friday during the opening events of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. Credit Will Glaser/The New York Times

As a boy growing up in Kew Gardens, Queens, Jacob Cohen got no respect.

His many menial jobs included delivering groceries to wealthy neighbors. He

endured anti-Semitism. He played baseball for a shabbily outfitted team against a team from against a team from the more celebrated Forest Hills neighborhood next door, said Carl Ballenas, a local historian.

That disadvantaged boy became Rodney Dangerfield, a stand-up comedian with a self-deprecating style based on his woeful upbringing in Kew Gardens.

Go ahead now, reader, and fidget with your imaginary necktie, mop your beleaguered brow and stammer it, the way Rodney did: No respect, no respect at all, all right?

“The whole ‘no respect’ theme came from his environment,” Mr. Ballenas said. “Kew Gardens was the birthplace, the formation of his themed monologues and catchphrase.”

Eager to confer a measure of respect upon Mr. Dangerfield and upon Kew Gardens, Mr. Ballenas and some of the students at the school where he teaches helped get a memorial plaque made to honor Mr. Dangerfield, who died in 2004 at 82.

Mr. Ballenas watched it being installed last Friday in a small green space next to the Kew Gardens station for the Long Island Rail Road. Mr. Dangerfield lived in the neighborhood with his mother and sister in an apartment above what is now Austin’s Ale House, one of the best-known bars in Queens.

As workers installed the memorial in anticipation of its formal unveiling this Friday, onlookers were eager to recall one-liners from the King of No Respect, often zingers based on uncaring parents, a poor upbringing and other aspects of a troubled life.

The plaque, which bore the comic’s youthful image from his 1939 yearbook from Richmond Hill High School, lists three of his top film appearances: “Caddyshack,” “Easy Money” and “Back to School.”

Also listed are his 1981 Grammy-winning comedy record, “No Respect,” and his 1983 hip-hop single, “Rappin’ Rodney,” which, the plaque noted, reached No. 83 on the Billboard charts.

Mr. Dangerfield was born on Long Island and lived in several New York City neighborhoods before moving with his mother and sister to Kew Gardens in the early 1930s when he was 10. He remained there throughout his teens.

His father abandoned the family and Mr. Dangerfield grew up “unloved and unwanted,” with a mother who withheld affection and kindness, said his widow, Joan Dangerfield.

“His mother convinced him to open a saving account one summer so he could save up for a football uniform,” she said, sounding like a Dangerfield joke setup. “Then she stole his money.”

Ms.…

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