Dead or Alive: Rodney Dangerfield

Comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield is…Dead. Hey, I had to pick somebody that was dead! If I only picked celebrities that were alive, this would be a “Where Are They Now” segment instead of a “Dead or Alive” Segment. But I will give Rodney some “Respect”.

Rodney Dangerfield (November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004), was actually born Jacob Cohen. As a teenager, he got his start writing jokes for standup comics; he became one himself at 19 under the name Jack Roy, which is what he legally changed his name to.
However, he struggled as a comedian for many years.
So, he decided to come up with an image that audiences could relate to and that would distinguish him from similar comics. He took the name Rodney Dangerfield, which he remembered from a comedy routine on Jack Benny’s radio program in the 40s. He began to develop the image of a lovable but laughable “everyman” who gets no respect and became a nightclub hit in the 60s.

His popularity exploded at the dawn of the ’80s when he starred in 1980’s Caddyshack. He was a standout among fellow comedic actors such as Ted Knight, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray.

He even had a music video for “Rappin’ Rodney” in 1983:
Rodney became the leading man in two more films, Easy Money (1983), and Back to School (1986) which was one of the first comedies to gross over $100 million. His first dramatic role was that of the abusive father in Oliver Stone’s successful film, Natural Born Killers (1994). He made several more films – twenty in all – but most of them went directly to video.

On April 8, 2003, Dangerfield underwent brain surgery to improve blood flow in preparation for heart valve-replacement surgery on August 24, 2004. Upon entering the hospital, he uttered another characteristic one-liner when asked how long he would be hospitalized: “If all goes well, about a week. If not, about an hour and a half.”

In September 2004, it was revealed that Dangerfield had been in a coma for several weeks. Afterward, he began breathing on his own and showing signs of awareness when visited by friends. However, on October 5, 2004, he died at the UCLA Medical Center, from complications of the surgery he had undergone in August. He was a month and a half short of his 83rd birthday. Dangerfield was buried in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. In keeping with his “no respect” persona, his headstone reads simply, “Rodney Dangerfield… There goes the neighborhood.”:

Here are some great quotes from Dangerfield:

I worked in a pet store and people kept asking how big I’d get.

My mother never breast fed me. She told me that she only liked me as a friend.

I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent back a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

I was tired one night and I went to the bar to have a few drinks. The bartender asked me, “What’ll you have?” I said, “Surprise me.” He showed me a naked picture of my wife.

I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown necktie.

When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, “Look, twins!”

I get no respect at all – When I was a kid, I lost my parents at the beach. I asked a lifeguard to help me find them. He said “I don’t know kid, there are so many places they could hide”.

I’m getting so old my insurance company sends me 1/2 a calendar!

I told my doctor I wanna stop aging, he gave me a gun!

R.I.P. Rodney!!

Music Video of the Week – 8/11/10

This week’s selection, in honor of the 2011 Van Halen reunion, is “Jump”:

“Jump” is the only Van Halen song to reach all the way up to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the second single released off of the 1984 album. This is a simple video of the band performing a mock concert. David Lee Roth jumps a lot, and Eddie Van Halen has a funny smile on his face the whole time. I remember that I loved the video, but that goofy smile annoyed the crap out of me. You would think he was high or something!
But, the song shows how talented Eddie is. Not only is he one of the greatest guitarists of all time, but he is also a damn good keyboard player too. This is one of those songs that is instantly recognizable from the first note.

Van Halen reuniting for 2011 album and tour

According to Billboard.com, a deal was re-upped between publisher Warner/Chappell and Eddie and Alex Van Halen, and it was stated that the band “is currently in the studio recording an album with Roth that is due for release in 2011.”

Also, Van Halen manager and Live Nation Entertainment executive chairman Irivng Azoff mentioned that Van Halen was expected to tour next year. Van Halen’s 2008 reunion tour with Roth was a massive success. It took in more than $93 million. from 74 shows according to Billboard.

Next year’s album would be Van Halen’s first studio album since 1998’s flop Van Halen III,” with Gary Cherone as the lead singer. This would also be the first album with David Lee Roth since the classic 1984.

Hopefully the band will get along, and this will go through. If it does, I will buy the album as soon as it comes out. Hey, if I could buy the Van Halen III album the day it was released, I can do the same for the Van Halen/David Lee Roth reunion!

Trivia Tuesday – 8/10/10

Question: What does ALF stand for?
Bonus Question: What animal would best be advised to stay away from ALF?


Last Week’s Question: On Three’s Company, what was the name of the restaurant that Jack Tripper worked at before he owned his own restaurant? What was the name of Jack’s restaurant?

Answer: Jack worked at Angelino’s, and the name of Jack’s restaurant was Jack’s Bistro

Before Jack opened his own restaurant, he worked for Frank Angelino (played by Jordan Charney). He had a huge rivalry with the hilarious high-strung Felipe (played by Gino Conforti).

One Year Ago Today: An ’80s Legend is Lost

On August 6, 2009, ’80s movies fans, especially those of us who grew up in the ’80s, had our hearts ripped out with the passing of writer/producer/director John Hughes (February 18, 1950 – August 6, 2009).

Hughes died of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan, where he was visiting his family. On that morning, Hughes was on West 55th Street in Manhattan when he was stricken with chest pains. At 8:55 a.m., 911 operators summoned paramedics to assist. Hughes was unconscious when they arrived several minutes later. Hughes was raced to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Not only was his death at a relatively young age tragic, but it was tragic that it happened in New York, and not his beloved Chicago.

Hughes got his start writing for the National Lampoon Magazine. His first credited screenplay was Class Reunion, which wasn’t too successful. But he skyrocketed when he wrote the screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The first movie he directed was the classic Sixteen Candles. This began a string of very successful movies set around high school – The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Then to avoid being known solely known for teen comedies, he branched out in 1987, directing Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy, and Uncle Buck, also starring John Candy.

Then his biggest success came with the movie Home Alone, which is still the most successful live-action comedy of all time. Then his last film as a director was 1991’s Curly Sue, which I have never seen.

Hughes stepped away from Hollywood in 1994. This was the same year John Candy died. If Candy did not die, who knows if Hughes may have come back or not.

Hughes made stars out of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Jon Cryer, Macaulay Culkin, and Alec Baldwin.

His teen movies were incredible. Teens in the ’80s could totally relate to at least some of the characters in his movies. Most of the characters were were awkward and uncomfortable in their own skin. But, his movies managed to have happy endings.

Something that Hughes did, that is greatly missed today, is the way he integrated music in his movies. Who can forget Ducky dancing and singing to “Try a Little Tenderness” in the record store, or Ferris in the parade performing “Twist and Shout”. And you can’t help but think of the song “Don’t You Forget About Me” when mentioning John Hughes.

Here is my top 5 John Hughes movies:
5. Sixteen Candles
4. Uncle Buck
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
2. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
1. The Breakfast Club

What are some of your favorite John Hughes movies, moments or memories?

Here is a poll to select your favorite John Hughes movie that he actually directed:

In closing, as the great Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Where Are They Now: The Cast of Police Academy

The original Police Academy was released in 1984. It was a success, which was a blessing and a curse, as it spawned 6 sequels – the seventh and the last of the franchise was Police Academy: Mission to Moscow in 1994. Police Academy eventually became more known for it’s ridiculous sequels than for the fun movie that it was. I actually enjoyed the first three movies – the original, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, and Police Academy 3: Back in Training.

Police Academy had a colorful cast of characters. But we have not really heard from most of them in a while. Here is where they are now:

Steve Guttenberg (Carey Mahoney): Mahoney is the lead character of the first four movies. He was a womanizer and troublemaker “with a heart of gold”. Steve Guttenberg was a huge star throughout the ’80s. In addition to the Police Academy movies, he starred in Diner, Short Circuit, Cocoon in 1985, as well as the sequel in 1988 – Cocoon: The Return. And he also starred in the Three Men and a Baby and Three Men and a Little Lady with Tom Selleck and Ted Danson. After that, Guttenberg kind of disappeared. I remember seeing him in 1997’s Tower of Terror on The Wonderful World of Disney. More recently, he appeared on the 2008 spring season of Dancing with the Stars, where he was eliminated after the third week. He was also in the television show Veronica Mars.
Now it looks like Gutenberg’s next project is Three Men and a Bride, which is in development, and according to imdb, is scheduled to be released in 2012.

Bubba Smith (Moses Hightower): Hightower was in all of the films except for the final one. He is best known for his immense stature and inhuman strength (Hightower practices for his driving test by ripping the front seat out of a compact car [a 1977 Honda Civic owned by Copeland], and steering comfortably from the back). However, he is the most soft-spoken of all the characters. Despite his gigantic size, Hightower has sometimes admitted that he lacks self-confidence, such as when he tells Mahoney that he has not driven a car since he was twelve years old, and fears failing out of the police academy as he will not pass the driving test. His character often breaks things or uses force to threaten the bad guys.

Smith spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end. He was the first overall selection in the 1967 NFL Draft, chosen by the Baltimore Colts (he became the first African-American overall #1 to actually play in a game, as the first overall player with this distinction, Ernie Davis, died without ever playing a single down). Baltimore won Super Bowl V at the end of the 1970 season, earning Smith his only Super Bowl ring.

Smith did not really appear in too much of anything other than the Police Academy movies. But, he was also known for the classic Miller Lite commercials:

[Note: Sadly, Bubba Smith passed away, on August 3, 2011 at the age of 66. See here for some more info]

David Graf (Eugene Tackleberry) (April 16, 1950 – April 7, 2001): Tackleberry was probably my favorite character of the series. He was best known for his love of firearms, and his ability of getting the job done…with overkill. An example of this is when he helped an old lady who lost her money in a pay phone by shooting it and making a bunch of money fall in his hands “Can you identify your quarter, Ma’am”.

After the Police Academy movies, David Graf made small appearances on several TV shows such as Seinfeld, Star Trek: Voyager , and The West Wing. He also played Alice’s boyfriend, Sam the butcher in The Brady Bunch Movie.

Sadly, Graf died of a heart attack on April 7, 2001 while attending a family wedding. He was 50 years old.

Michael Winslow (Larvell Jones): Jones was best known for making his own sound effects with his mouth. He played pranks and deceived both criminals and authority figures. Jones was able to clearly imitate such sounds as a flat tire, a couple noisily eating fast food, gunfire, and, memorably, a badly-dubbed martial arts star when he defeats a pair of hoods bullying an Asian grocer.

Since the fall of 2008, Winslow has hosted the motion picture television series called “Way Back Wednesday with Winslow” on WGN America, which features movies mostly released in the 1980s. Michael continues to perform stand-up comedy around the world.

Marion Ramsey (Laverne Hooks): Hooks had a very soft voice, and often had trouble putting people in line. However, when she was pushed to her limit, she would knock people out or pul her weapon, and screech the memorable phrase: “Don’t move, dirtbag!”

Marion Ramsey has not really appeared in anything significant other than the Police Academy movies.

Leslie Easterbrook (Debbie Callahan): Callahan was basically a female version of Tackleberry. She was a stoic, no-nonsense officer who is both physically and sexually aggressive. She used to train the cadets. When she taught self defense, she performed a demonstration on a cadet, and quickly took him down, and sat on his chest. When she asked for another volunteer, all the male cadets volunteered.

Leslie Easterbrook appeared as a guest on several TV shows since Police Academy. In 2005, Leslie replaced Karen Black as Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. In 2007, she played security guard Patty Frost in Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. In 2008, she played as Betty in the thriller/horror film House.

George Gaynes (Eric Lassard): Lassard was in charge of the police academy. He traveled by golf cart, and tended to destroy things while golfing in his office. He had a big heart, but was clueless. He gave long winded, optimistic speeches about the future of the academy.

George Gaynes was more well known to television viewers for playing the lovable curmudgeon Henry Warnimont, who took in Punky Brewster.

I never watched General Hospital, but Gaines played a mob boss called Frank Smith, who was brought down by Luke Spencer. Maybe fans of that soap could give us more information.

George Gaines has been married to actress and dancer Allyn Ann McLerie since December 20, 1953, and they have two children – Matthew and Iya. George and Allyn live in Calabasas, California.

[Sadly, George Gaynes passed away at his home in North Bend, Washington on February 15, 2016. He was 98.]

G.W. Bailey (Thaddeus Harris): Harris was the bad guy of the police academy. He was always attempting to discredit Lassard and his men, but ends up being the butt of most of the jokes.
He gets pleasure from tormenting and belittling first, his cadets as an academy instructor, and later on, Lassard’s men whom he still holds rank over. Although he is generally disliked by his colleagues due to his treatment of them, those same people end up rescuing him.

In addition to the Police Academy movies, G.W. Bailey was known for playing Rizzo on M*A*S*H.
He returned to college in 1993, attending Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He graduated in May 1994 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, Theater. For the 1999–2000 school year, he was the Artist-in-Residence.

Since 2001, Bailey has served as the Executive Director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which provides trips and activities for hundreds of young cancer patients annually. He has volunteered for over fifteen years since being introduced to the organization by his goddaughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia

Judas Priest to appear on A&E’s Private Sessions this Sunday

’80s metal band, Judas Priest, will appear on Private Sessions on A&E this Sunday (8/8/10) at 9:00 am Eastern. Lead singer, Rob Halford will be interviewed by host Lynn Hoffman about life on the road, metal therapy and the new, 30th anniversary edition of Priest’s 1980 classic, British Steel. The entire band also will perform some of their most famous songs – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight” and “Freewheel Burning.”

I definitely recommend this show. There are often ’80s bands/singers on this show. Lynn is an excellent interviewer, and the songs are usually good. I have even watched some bands that I had no interest in, and they are still great episodes. If you don’t like the music, you can just skip the performances, and watch the interviews.

Here is a look Behind the Scenes:

Music Video of the week – 8/4/10

This week’s selection is “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant:

“Electric Avenue” was released in 1982, and appeared on Eddy Grant’s 1983 album Killer on the Rampage. The song is named after a market street in the Brixton area of London, England.
Technically, “Electric Avenue” is considered to have made Grant a one-hit wonder, but I remember that I did like the song “Romancing the Stone” from the movie of the same name:

In the mid ’80s, Grant left the limelight, and, moved his family to Barbados. Then he started his own recording studio called Blue Wave. His clients have included Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Sting and Elvis Costello. It’s where the Rolling Stones prepared for their “Steel Wheels” tour. Now his studio is called Ice Records, and it promotes Classic Calypso, Soca and ‘Ringbang’ music. Ringbang is a new genre that Grant has developed. The following is from Grant’s official web site:

“in my heart, I know that Soca and Ringbang have the same potential as reggae to achieve great popularity… but there has never been any proper commitment to marketing these artists and their music. We are not Sony, and the artists on board realise it will take time. It is an upliftment process.”

Trivia Tuesday – 8/3/10

Question: On Three’s Company, what was the name of the restaurant that Jack Tripper worked at before he owned his own restaurant? What was the name of Jack’s restaurant?


Last Week’s Question: What rock band agreed to bleach their hair blonde in order to do a chewing gum commercial?

Answer: The Police


Before they hit it big, all 3 members dyed their hair blond for a Wrigley’s Gum commercial in 1978.

I cannot find any images or video from this commercial anywhere. If a anybody can find any more information, please let us know.

80's Pop Culture and News

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