Comedy Legend Gets the Respect He Deserves from Students in His Hometown
The students in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy's Aquinas Honor Society weren't even alive at the height of Rodney Dangerfield's fame.
Still, the students can recite some of the comedian’s famous jokes from memory.
“With my dog I get no respect…when he’s barking at the door, he doesn’t want to go out, he wants me to leave,” said one student.
It was the comedian's lifelong quest for "respect" that convinced their teacher, Carl Ballenas that Dangerfield had a meaningful message to share.
"He talked about how he came to Kew Gardens as a child and in his autobiography he talked about how he was disrespected by the affluent community," Ballenas said.
Rather than shutting down, however, Dangerfield flourished and gained fame.
Now, Ballenas' students are creating a plaque which will highlight Dangerfield's personal and professional achievements.
The plaque will go on display at Austin's Ale House on Austin Street.
The restaurant is located just below the Kew Gardens apartment that the comedian called home in his youth.
The plan is to unveil the plaque at the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema in August.
"We've talked about putting a plaque inside and having a wall dedication to him," explained Laura Altimari, the Marketing Director for Austin's Ale House.
The owners of the Ale House also wanted to honor the comedian in their own way.
Late last month, they submitted an application to co-name Austin Street after Dangerfield.
The request was denied.
A spokesman for City Council Member Karen Koslowitz said she could not support the request, for now, and cited strong opposition by the Kew Gardens Civic Association.
Its executive chairman would only say "the board considered the re-naming of any streets at this time inappropriate”.
"I could understand where the Civic Association is coming from but as far as I'm concerned it just brings joy and happiness to the area," responded Mark Boccia, the co-owner of Austin's Ale House.
Meantime, the future of a mural honoring Dangerfield, located just across the street, remains in limbo.
In February, Italian artist Francesca Robicci received cease and desist letters demanding that the artwork be removed.
Dangerfield's widow, Joan, had issues with the piece which includes a copyrighted image of the actor.
She tells NY1 wants to create a "Revolving Rodney" wall that would include new paintings by local artists.
Mrs. Dangerfield said she has the permission of the wall’s owner and the non-profit that commissioned the first mural.
She is also hoping to get Ms. Robicci on board with the project, as she was part of creating the original mural.
Robicci said she has been unable to return to the United States to make the changes Joan Dangerfield has requested due to family illness.