You might have to beat the mold off some Rodney Dangerfield jokes. But the Smithsonian has forever preserved the comic’s white shirt and red tie. You have to admit, he’s a classic. Of sorts.
Dangerfield tells The Wolf Files he was drunk in December 1993 when he married his wife Joan in Los Vegas. “She wants me to repeat the vows again, when I’m sober,” he says.
I tell you, this guy gets no respect.
Indeed, the recommitment ceremony is part of the public relations blitz for Dangerfield’s new movie, My Five Wives. The has-been, potty-mouthed standup comic Andrew “Dice” Clay will preside over the ceremony, an invitation-only affair at the movie’s Aug. 28 premiere in Santa Monica, Calif., and other guests will include Jerry Stiller, John Byner, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.
Still, the unlikely union between the Jewish-born, 78-year-old bug-eyed comic and his Mormon-born, 46-year-old wife demands some reflection. She owns a Los Angeles flower shop, and they met in the mid-1980s.
“I never took the time to stop and smell the roses,” he says. “I finally did, and it’s great.”
To be happily married is a lot to say for a man who has spent much of his career grousing about bad sex and go-nowhere relationships. From his standup routine:
“I tell ya, with my wife I got no sex life. Just when I get going, she wakes up.”
“My wife, she likes to talk during sex. The other night she called me from a motel.”
“Blind dates never work out. I had a blind date. The girl, she showed up, she was pregnant. What do ya say to a girl that’s pregnant? ‘What have you been doing lately?’ And she told me she had a fight with her boyfriend. I said, ‘Look, you tell your boyfriend next time you fight, he should knock you down.’”
These days, as he’s gearing up for another run on Vegas, beginning Aug. 31 at the MGM Grand Hotel, The no-sex-in-marriage schtick isn’t really the centerpiece of his routine. “What can I say? It works for us.”
And when it comes to matters of faith, “I’m officially neutral.”
One, And I’m Done
My Five Wives traces its roots to Dangerfield’s conversations with Joan’s family. The Mormons — members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — once practiced polygamy. Brigham Young, a patriarch of the faith and the first governor of Utah, was said to have 27 wives, by some accounts, and more according to others.
“I used to have this joke,” Dangerfield says, “I don’t care how you bring ’em, just bring ’em young.”
He says he’s happy with the one woman he has, but was astounded to find that polygamy is still practiced in parts of the world. In the movie, he plays a business mogul who buys land in the fictional town of Redwood Falls, Utah, who is surprised to find that the land he’s purchased comes with three wives.
The movie is not about Mormonism, he says. Rather, it is a comic look at what a guy like him would do in a polygamous union.
“One of the advantages of having five wives is they can’t all have a headache at the same time,” Dangerfield cracks.
At the same time, how does a man well into retirement age keep five nubile women happy? “They think I’m Don Juan,” he says. “But after one, I’m done.”
The movie and new run in Vegas mark a comeback for Dangerfield. In March, he underwent double bypass surgery. “I’ve been cut up so much,” he says, “I feel like I’m back in my old neighborhood.”