One of the biggest and most elaborate private memorial tributes in recent history was held Sunday evening at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park to pay final respects to comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield, who passed away on Tuesday, October 5, 2004 following complications from heart valve
Dangerfield's widow, Joan, created a candle-lit heavens harvest where chandeliers dripped from rose-encrusted trees and white cashmere carpeting covered the grounds leading to the chapel. An angelic harpist strummed at the chapel entry where attendees strolled through ornate iron gates boasting Rodney's initials shaped in sterling silver roses. Joan tried to create heaven on earth by covering the chapel grounds with canopied clouds of softly-lit chiffon which swept twenty feet into the sky while an abundance of fragrant candles and flowers hugged the pathways.
The services were held at dusk in keeping with Rodney's daily request to Joan that she never book appointments for him before 5pm. He was a night person, laid to rest
just after sunset.
Master of Ceremonies Bob Saget commandeered a heartfelt and impressive service of eulogists including Rodney's daughter Melanie Roy Friedman, his nieces Morgan and SueAnn Reese, Jay Leno (who called Rodney the greatest stand-up comedian of all time), Roseanne, Paul Rodriguez, Tim Allen, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Michael Bolton (too choked up to sing a planned song, but did speak), Dom Irrerra, and Jim Carrey (who said, Ill never forget how kind he was to my father. I remember watching Rodney on The Ed Sullivan Show as a child, and laughing, not because I got the jokes, but because my father was in hysterics). The common thread of the poignant eulogies emphasized how kind Rodney was to his fellow man, and the generosity he showed friends and
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.
Honorary Pall Bearers also in attendance included Chris Albrecht, Dennis Arfa, Anthony Bevacqua, George Carlin, Smokey Child, Andrew Dice Clay, Larry David, Layne Dicker, Neal ElAttrache, Dom Irerra, Hillel Laks, Jay Leno, Jon Lovitz, Neil Martin, Anne Meara, Bob Nelson, Carl Reiner, Chris Rock, Paul Rodriguez, Roseanne, Larry Shire, Jerry Stiller, Edward Tomblin and Billy Tragresser.
Highlighting the service was a special Rodney Dangerfield Memorial Video, produced by longtime friend, producer David Permut, that treated guests to a visual soundtrack of some of the most memorable moments in Rodney's life that brought the crowd of 500 to tears. A golden caricature of Rodney glowed through a chiffon curtain draped from the chapel's peak behind the mahogany casket. A memory box included special trinkets from family and close friends that was buried with the
Rodney's widow selected Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me as the recessional song because it was playing in Rodney's hospital room when he passed away.
Strolling violinists accompanied the Pall Bearers as they led the casket to the gravesite outside the chapel. The Honorary Pall Bearers and family followed behind. A final Prayer Of Comfort was recited by comic friend Louie Anderson at the behest of Rodney's widow.
After the prayer, guests were led to an elaborate feast of Rodney's favorite dishes presented by caterer Along Came Mary, where family, friends, and fellow comics embraced and reminisced about their friend and how much he truly gave to the world.
The tremendous effect of Dangerfield's passing and legacy was evidenced by the overwhelming attendance by family, friends, and comedy royalty. In addition to the eulogists, pall bearers and honorary pall bearers, other celebrity attendees paying their last respects included Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Louie Anderson, Larry David, Rob Schneider, Bob Nelson, George Lopez, Jon Lovitz, Brian Doyle Murray, Mark Schiff, George Shapiro, Carole Leifer, Dyan Cannon, Norm Crosby, Jack Carter, Robert Klein, Connie Stevens, Dom Irrera, Jayne Meadows, George Schlatter, Ed Begley, Jr., Berry Gordy, as well as comedy club star proprietors Budd Friedman, Jamie Masada, Anthony Bevacqua, and Mike Lacy. Real life angel Farrah Fawcett was also in attendance.
Glowing comments from guests abounded, including Academy Award-winning producer Al Ruddy who said, "It couldn't have been a better funeral if I had produced it. It was tasteful and special and the overall feeling was of happiness." American Comedy Awards creator and producer George Schlatter said, "What a spectacular send- off for Rodney. Joan succeeded in truly creating heaven on earth for Rodney. She thought of everything."
Stunning floral bouquets flooded the chapel and grounds from well-wishers unable to attend such as Larry King, Jack Nicholson, Whoopi Goldberg, Rita Rudner, John Travolta, Chris Matthews, Cindy Williams, Byron Allen and others. Shaquille ONeal sent a seven-foot tree in his place.
Though Dangerfield often joked about his terrible doctor, Dr. Vinny Boombatz, his favorite real-life doctors that looked after him through the years were in attendance, including Drs. Hillel Laks, Neil Martin, Jamie Moriguchi, Neal ElAttrache, and Nick Diaco.
Immediately following the services, Rodney's immediate family, including his wife and children from a previous marriage, Melanie and Brian, gathered at his Star on the Walk
of Fame and adorned it with
armloads of flowers.
Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park is also the resting final place for a number of Hollywood luminaries including Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Walter Matthau, Marvin Davis, and Eva Gabor,
A full-figure bronze statue will be created to adorn Rodney's grave. In addition, a special slide show tribute to Rodney has been created by a group of world-renowned celebrity cartoonists and will soon be posted on his website, www.rodney.com.
Romeo Rodney is a collection of standards that were special to Rodney Dangerfield... and he loved singing them! Rodney loved to sing and wanted to share this music with his fans. The Romeo Rodney collection also includes an extra bonus track of Rodney's 1983 hit "Rappin Rodney."
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