Neither of his names, first or last, was real. But they were one of the few things about Rodney Dangerfield — born Jacob Cohen and raised in Kew Gardens — that weren’t authentic.
It was Dangerfield’s father, Phillip Cohen, a vaudeville performer, who changed the family name to Roy.
Jack Roy was the first name Dangerfield performed under as a comic, selling aluminum siding during the day and working in clubs at night.
Crippled by depression and self-doubt, he eventually shaped his act to fit his real life. “I get no respect” became his trademark line.
His father was born in Russia in 1892, immigrated to the U.S. as a young boy and married a Hungarian immigrant, Dorothy Teitelbaum, in March 1917.
When they had a son on Nov. 22, 1921, they named him Jacob, after Phillip’s father.
By the early 1930s, the Cohens moved into the Grenfell Apartments at 80-15 Grenfell St., in Kew Gardens. The rent, $50 a month, was big money for the time.
Jacob attended PS 99 and Richmond Hill High School. He had a passion for writing jokes and wanted to make a living from telling them.
Dangerfield’s big break came in 1967 when he was booked on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and was an instant success.
His vaudevillian father died in June 1971, but lived long enough to see Dangerfield’s success in clubs, on TV and in the movies.
Dangerfield died in October 2004, a month shy of his 83rd birthday.