Comedian Rodney Dangerfield has died in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 82.

The funnyman slipped into a coma following a heart-valve operation in August (04) and never recovered.

Celebrity pals like Jay Leno, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey have been regular visitors to his bedside, but their efforts to bring Dangerfield out of his coma failed.

Dangerfield was born JACOB COHEN in Babylon, New York, in 1921. His birth name was Jacob Cohen and started performing comedy in his late teens.

For 10 years he hit the stand-up comedy circuit as JACK ROY.

After marrying his first wife JOYCE INDIG and becoming a father to children BRIAN and MELANIE, the struggling funnyman decided to settle down and worked as an aluminium-siding salesman in New Jersey.

But he was soon back on the stand-up train after arriving at the showbiz name that was to make him his fortune.

His fortunes changed forever when he became one of the only comics to make straight-faced TV legend Ed Sullivan laugh on his chat show, and he became a regular on the top variety TV shows.

He snatched a minor supporting part in the movie THE PROJECTIONIST in 1971 and spent the decade becoming one of America's most popular comics.

In 1980, he became a cornerstone of American comedy when he played filthy rich golfer AL CZERVIK in the classic golf comedy CADDYSHACK.

In the same year Dangerfield released a hit comedy album, RAPPIN' RODNEY, which earned him a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Dangerfield continued to make movies and starred in one of the first $100 million-grossing films when retro-comedy BACK TO SCHOOL became one of the big hits of 1986.

In 1997 he admitted to a lifelong bout with depression, and on his 80th birthday he had a mild heart attack. He has been in poor health ever since. As well as his children, Dangerfield leaves behind his wife JOAN CHILD, who he wed in 1993.

06/10/2004 03:19