Dangerfield, who fell into a coma after undergoing heart surgery, died at 1:20 p.m., said publicist Kevin Sasaki.

Dangerfield had a heart valve replaced Aug. 25 at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center. Sasaki said in a statement that Dangerfield suffered a small stroke after the operation and developed infectious and abdominal complications. In the past week he had emerged from the coma, Sasaki said.

“When Rodney emerged, he kissed me, squeezed my hand and smiled for his doctors,” Dangerfield’s wife, Joan, said in the statement. The comic is also survived by two children from a previous marriage.

Clad in a black suit, red tie and white shirt with collar that seemed too tight, Dangerfield convulsed audiences with lines such as: “When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother,” “When I started in show business, I played one club that was so far out my act was reviewed in Field and Stream,” and “Every time I get in an elevator, the operator says the same thing to me: `Basement?”‘

In a 1986 interview, he explained the origin of his “respect” trademark:

“I had this joke: `I played hide and seek; they wouldn’t even look for me.’ To make it work better, you look for something to put in front of it: I was so poor, I was so dumb, so this so that. I thought, `Now what fits that joke?’ Well, `no one liked me’ was all right. But then I thought, a more profound thing would be, `I get no respect.”‘

He tried it at a New York club, and the joke drew a bigger response than it ever had. He kept the phrase in the act, and it seemed to establish a bond with his audience. After hearing him perform years later, Jack Benny remarked: “Me, I get laughs because I’m cheap and 39. Your image goes into the soul of everyone.”

Flowers were placed on his star on Hollywood Boulevard after word of his death, and the marquee of The Improv, a comedy club where Dangerfield often performed, read “Rest In Peace Rodney.”

Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM Mirage, called Dangerfield, who used to perform at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the “unimpeachable king of comedic timing.”

“He will be sorely missed, not only at MGM Grand, but by an entire world of audiences,” Lanni said. “To the man who never seemed to get any respect, all of us at MGM Mirage salute you.”

Teller, half of the magic duo “Penn & Teller”, said Dangerfield didn’t need good material because he was “intrinsically funny.”

He said Dangerfield periodically would appear while they were performing in Las Vegas, walking around the casino wearing a satin dressing gown and sandals with a beautiful girl on his arms.

“He was so confident,” Teller said. “He was Rodney and he could do anything.”

Comedian Adam Sandler, who starred with Dangerfield in 2000’s Little Nicky, said the affection felt for Dangerfield “when you saw him on TV or in the movies was doubled when you had the pleasure to meet him. He was a hero who lived up to the hype.”

Dangerfield had a strange career in show business. At 19 he started as a standup comedian. He made only a fair living, traveling a great deal and appearing in rundown joints. Married at 27, he decided he couldn’t support a family on his meager earnings.

He returned to comedy at 42 and began to attract notice. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show seven times and on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson more than 70 times.

After his first major film role in Caddyshack, he began starring in his own movies.

He was born Jacob Cohen on Nov. 22, 1921, in Babylon, Long Island, N.Y. Growing up in Queens, his mother was uncaring and his father was absent. As Philip Roy, the father and his brother toured in vaudeville as a pantomime comedy-juggling act, Roy and Arthur. Young Jackie’s parents divorced, and the mother struggled to support her daughter and son.

The boy helped bring in money by selling ice cream at the beach and working for a grocery store. “I found myself going to school with kids and then in the afternoon I’d be delivering groceries to their back door,” he recalled. “I ended up feeling inferior to everybody.”

He ingratiated himself to his schoolmates by being funny; at 15 he was writing down jokes and storing them in a duffel bag. When he was 19, he adopted the name of Jack Roy and tried out the jokes at a resort in the Catskills, training ground for Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Red Button, Sid Caesar and other comedians. The job paid $12 a week plus room and meals.

In New York, he drove a laundry and fish truck, taking time off to hunt for work as a comedian. The jobs came slowly, but in time he was able to average $300 a week.

He married Joyce Indig, a singer he had met at a New York club. Both had wearied of the uncertainty of a performer’s life.

The couple settled in Englewood, N.J., had two children, Brian and Melanie, and he worked selling paint and siding. But the idyllic suburban life soured as the pair battled. The couple divorced in 1962, remarried a year later and again divorced.

In 1993, Dangerfield married Joan Child, a flower importer.

At the age of 42, he returned to show business as Jack Roy. He remembered in 1986:

Even during his domestic years, he continued filling the duffel bag with jokes. He didn’t want to break in his new act with any notice, so he asked the owner of New York’s Inwood Lounge, George McFadden, not to bill him as Jack Roy. McFadden came up with the absurd name Rodney Dangerfield. It stuck.

His film debut came in 1971 with The Projectionist, which he described as “the kind of a movie that you went to the location on the subway.” He did better in 1980 with Caddyshack, in which he held his own with such comics as Chevy Chase, Ted Knight and Bill Murray.

Despite his good reviews, Dangerfield claimed he didn’t like movies or TV series: “Too much waiting around, too much memorizing; I need that immediate feedback of people laughing.” Still, he continued starring in and sometimes writing films such as Easy Money, Back to School, Moving, The Scout, Ladybugs and Meet Wally Sparks. He turned dramatic as a sadistic father in Oliver Stone’s 1994 Natural Born Killers.

In 1995, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejected Dangerfield’s application for membership. A letter from Roddy McDowall of the actors branch explained that the comedian had failed to execute “enough of the kinds of roles that allow a performer to demonstrate the mastery of his craft.”

The ultimate rejection, and Dangerfield played it to the hilt. He had established his personal Web site (“I went out and bought an Apple Computer; it had a worm in it”), and his fans used it to express their indignation. The public reaction prompted the academy to reverse itself and offer membership. Dangerfield declined.

“They don’t even apologize or nothing,” he said. “They give no respect at all – pardon the pun – to comedy.”