A Heaven On Earth Sendoff for Rodney Dangerfield

by M-Berens
Rodney Dangerfield's funeral program with red tie and a cookie with his picture on it.

Rodney Dangerfield’s funeral included a “cast” of characters in the program that was wrapped with his signature red tie and a cookie featuring his image.

Rodney Dangerfield died on October 5, 2004 at he age of 82 following complications from a heart valve operation. He was a stand-up comedian with his signature line, “I don’t get no respect!”, an actor who starred in iconic films such as Caddyshack and Easy Money and a writer. He had two children, Brian and Melanie, with his first wife and was survived by his second wife, Joan, whom he married in 1993.

Joan, decided to create a personalized sendoff that would celebrate his life in a way he deserved. It was elaborate but, according to guests, was a fitting sendoff for the man who always said he got no respect.

The ceremony took place at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. It was held at dusk because Rodney never liked having appointments before 5 p.m.. White cashmere carpets covered the walkway that led to the chapel. Candlelit chandeliers were hung from trees covered in roses and a harpist played as Rodney’s friends and family passed under an ornate iron gate with Rodney’s initials entwined with sterling silver roses. Above all, clouds of chiffon were hung twenty feet above to make the whole atmosphere seem like a Heaven on Earth.

Comedian Bob Saget was master of ceremonies with eulogies from his family and comedians such as Jay Leno, Jim Carrey and more. Pall bearers included Adam Sandler, Michael Bolton, Jim Carrey, Harry Basil, Bob Saget, Rob Schneider, David Permut, son Brian Roy and son-in-law David Friedman with 24 honorary pallbearers which included comedians George Carlin, Chris Rock and Roseanne.

Rodney’s funeral program was tied with one of his signature red ties and listed all the people who were participating in the service under the heading “cast”. Each guest was given a cookie with Rodney’s face immortalized in icing. A memorial video was shown to the more than 500 guests while a caricature of Rodney glowed through chiffon draped behind the casket.

Rodney Dangerfield's gravestone is etched with one of his one-liners - "There goes the neighborhood" and his name.

Rodney Dangerfield is buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Photo by Alan Light – wikipedia.org.

As the coffin was led to the gravesite just after sunset, violinists accompanied the pallbearers who continued to play after the recessional song which was Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me”. Joan chose that particular song because it was playing in Rodney’s hospital room on the day he died. His family and close friends also contributed special memorabilia to a memory box that was buried with the actor.

His tombstone, fittingly enough, was etched with part one of his on-liners, “I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, ‘There goes the neighborhood!’”

Guests later gathered for a meal comprised of all of Rodney’s favorite foods where they shared their memories of Rodney.

Joan concluded, “Although Rodney has transcended this physical plane, what he stands for – kindness, humor, humility, and heroic struggle against all odds – remains, and is the essence of the human experience. Rodney will always represent what it feels like for all of us to crave a little respect. That’s a desire our life on earth will always evoke and Rodney Dangerfield will always be around, eternally, to epitomize that experience.”

A year after his death, Joan held a memorial service at her home to celebrate Rodney’s “first year of immortality”. The infinity pool was lit with his image and guests drank rose martinis. Actress Farrah Fawcett, who died in 2009, led guests in releasing butterflies in Rodney’s memory while, high above the Hollywood Hills, a skywriting plane released its simple message in mile high letters, “Respect”.

Rodney Dangerfield Funeral Program photo courtesy of Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory’s Famous Endings Museum.

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