- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

Nobles: Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, for reminding audiences that although life is tough, it could be worse you could be him.

“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I wanted a second opinion. He said, ‘OK, you’re ugly too.’ I tell ya, I don’t get no respect.”

It was a simple schtick — self-deprecating, quick and relentless — yet Mr. Dangerfield, who died on Tuesday at age 82, played it for more than 40 years with the kind of success that earns one a place in the Smithsonian. Not bad for a poor kid from Long Island.

“I was an ugly kid,” he would admit. “When I was born, after the doctor cut the cord, he hung himself.”

Indeed, Mr. Dangerfield’s troubled childhood remained a steady source of ribbing throughout his life. “I could tell my parents hated me,” he said on stage. “My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”

Mr. Dangerfield abandoned an early career as a stand-up comedian to take care of his first wife and two children. Fortunately, in 1963 at age 42, he returned to the spotlight with an appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” during which he performed the miraculous feat of making the usually stone-faced host laugh out loud. Late-night television seemed to suit Dangerfield’s stage persona: He appeared 16 times on Mr. Sullivan’s show; 70 times (a record) on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson; and 28 times on the same show with host Jay Leno. It is said that he was one of the few guests on “The Tonight Show” who had an open invitation to appear.

“I told my wife the truth,” he said, twisting his signature red tie. “I told her I was seeing a psychiatrist. Then she told me the truth: that she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers and a bartender.”

Despite the one-liners, Mr. Dangerfield was a devoted family man. After his first marriage failed, he married Joan Child in 1993 — the woman he credits for seeing him through his many afflictions. “Last week, I told my psychiatrist, ‘I keep thinking about suicide,’ ” he recounted. “He told me from now on I have to pay in advance.”

With more than a dozen movies to his name, Mr. Dangerfield won a Grammy in 1980 and earned an American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994.

For a life spent making us laugh (“My wife and I were happy for 20 years, then we met”), Rodney Dangerfield is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: A Washington Post headline writer, for employing a little “fake but accurate” journalism.

Thursday’s Post front-page headline, which spanned four column lengths, read: “U.S. ‘Almost All Wrong’ on Weapons.” Here’s the correction the Post ran yesterday, reprinted here since, unfortunately, corrections often go unnoticed:

“An Oct. 7 article and the lead Page One headline incorrectly attributed a quotation to Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq. The statement, ‘We were almost all wrong,’ was made by Duelfer’s predecessor, David Kay, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Jan. 28.”

For allowing bias to cloud judgment, the Post headline writer is the Knave of the week.

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