Rodney Dangerfield was rushed to a hospital terrified he was having a heart attack—and to calm himself he fired up a joint right in the middle of the Intensive Care Unit! The 80-year-old comic, who has been battling heart disease for more than 10 years—was brought in by his devoted wife Joan, 49, who says her husband panics every time he feels a twinge in his chest.
Rodney came into Saint John's Health Canter on Saturday night, August 31, "white as a sheet, drenched in sweat and holding his chest with both hands," an inside source revealed.
"It was obvious he was in a lot of pain."
He was moved to the ICU unit and left alone to change his clothes in the bathroom.
"And when the door was shut he lit up a joint," said the source. "He said later it was to calm his nerves.
"When a nurse opened the bathroom door a cloud of pot smoke hit her in the face!"
An insider disclosed, "When the staff realized what was going on they were furious—and so was Rodney's wife!
"They don't even allow flowers in the ICU so you can imagine how they feel about any kind of smoke.
"People were shocked. Someone on the floor called security. When they arrived they went into his room to talk to him, but the damage was already done.
"What could they do? They couldn't throw an 80-year-old heart patient out on his ear!
"When Rodney sheepishly admitted to smoking pot, he was given a good scolding.
"Some people in the hospital thought it was funny, this old guy sitting in ICU getting high, but the nurses were fit to be tied.
"Rodney sincerely apologized to the staff and told them it would never happen again."
But smoking the joint did calm down the panic-stricken star, said the insider. "Rodney was suddenly much more relaxed and not afraid at all.
"He was so agreeable with everyone. While the nurses got his IV hooked up, he was laughing and telling jokes like there was nothing wrong!"
Rodney began having heart problems in the early 1990s, underwent heart surgery in 1992 and had more surgery in 2000 for an abdominal aneurysm.
But this time, doctors told him his pains were not life-threatening, and he was released on Sunday morning, the insider added.
"Rodney was told to take it easy—but to leave the drugs alone!"
Rodney Dangerfield freely admits that a recent Enquirer report that he smoked a joint in a hospital's intensive care unit is completely true. But he says he has a perfectly reasonable explanation: "My wife won't let me get high at home!"
Two weeks ago we reported exclusively that Rodney's wife Joan rushed the 80-year-old comic to Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica because he feared he was having a heart attack.
And he stunned hospital staffers by firing up a marijuana joint while changing his clothes in the ICU.
"Marijuana calms Rodney's nerves," said his spokesman Kevin Sasaki, who revealed that his office was flooded by calls—all of them positive—after The Enquirer story hit the stands.
"Everyone wanted to tell him, 'You go, Rodney!' He's become a hero of sorts.
"Rodney has a medical history of heart problems. And he finds that smoking grass helps to lower his blood pressure. Right now, keeping his blood pressure low is an important part of Rodney's life."
The comic will even write about his love affair with pot in his upcoming memoir, "It Ain't Easy Being Me," Sasaki disclosed.
Rodney was released from the hospital when doctors determined that his chest pains were not life-threatening. But by that time he'd already given everyone around him a dose of his "medicine."
"When hospital personnel complained of the smoke, Rodney thought it was a riot. He wanted everyone to join in the fun," a source revealed.
"He told me he's been toking up for nearly 50 years. He said, 'I was a hippie long before hippies were born.'
"Rodney said he's been rolling his own joints for ages now and he doesn't intend to stop just because he's a senior citizen.
"Smoking weed is something he's not ashamed of or tries to hide.
"Though his doctors haven't prescribed marijuana as part of his medical treatment, Rodney says he writes his own pot prescriptions.
"He told a friend, 'It makes me feel good. What's so wrong with a funnyman wanting to feel good?'
"Where pot is concerned, Rodney would rather kick the bucket than kick the habit!"
Rodney "No Respect" Dangerfield began his career at the age of 15 when he started writing jokes. At 17 he started performing at amateur nights. At 19 he had two jobs, one as a comic who couldn't make a living, and the other as a singing waiter. Rodney would sing and people threw money at him.
He traveled the comedy circuit for ten years but reluctantly gave up show biz for a more stable income.
It wasn't until the age of 40 that Dangerfield made the decision to relaunch his career as a performer and comedy writer for the second time. He spent his days in a business office and his nights working in New York clubs. Not satisfied, Rodney opened his own club, the now famous Dangerfield's on First Avenue in Manhattan. The club was a huge success and so was Rodney. Rodney introduced many of today's comedy stars to television for the first time on his HBO shows which emanated from Dangerfield's, such as Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Jim Carrey, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld, Rita Rudner, Robert Townsend, Louie Anderson and others.
Rodney Dangerfield's feature film credits include starring the classic hit comedy "Caddyshack," as well as "Easy Money," which he co-wrote, the mega-hit "Back to School" (one of the first comedies to gross over $100 million), and Paramount's "Ladybugs." In contrast to his comedy roles, Rodney accepted a dramatic role offered to him by Oliver Stone for "Natural Born Killers." Critics praised his realistic portrayal as the "Father From Hell."
Dangerfield also took an interest in working behind the scenes. He produced the animated feature musical "Rover Dangerfield" for Warner Bros. Rodney not only provided the voice for Rover, but he also wrote the screenplay, co-composed the songs and served as Executive Producer.
Recently, Dangerfield starred in and co-wrote "Meet Wally Sparks," a comedy featuring Cindy Williams, Burt Reynolds, David Ogden Steirs, Michael Bolton, Tony Danza, and others.
Another film Dangerfield co-wrote, "My 5 Wives", was just released. In this outrageous comedy Rodney plays a polygamist. In real life, Rodney is married to Joan Child, owner of Jungle Roses, a national floral distribution company. They have been married since 1993. Rodney has two children from a previous marriage, Brian and Melanie, and will soon become a grandfather for the first time.
Earlier this year, Rodney appeared as Lucifer in the Adam Sandler film, "Little Nicky."
Due for release in 2002, Rodney just completed filming "The 4th Tenor," an unusual love story.
Besides being a Las Vegas headliner for over 20 years, Dangerfield has also made countless appearances on talk and television variety shows. His first big break was The Ed Sullivan Show which he did 16 times. Rodney also appeared on This Is Your Life, What's My Line, "The Dean Martin Show", Saturday Night Live, and a record 70 times on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Recently, Rodney has appeared on Mad TV, Suddenly Susan, Late Night with Conan O' Brien, The Single Guy, Home Improvement, The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Pioneering new territory in cyberspace, Rodney was the first entertainer to personally own a website on the Internet. Launched in February 1995, his state-of-the-art site has won numerous awards and distinctions as one of the most popular destinations on the Internet.
Dangerfield's contributions to the world of comedy have not been overlooked. In 1981, Dangerfield won a Grammy Award for his comedy album named No Respect and was the recipient of the Lifetime Creative Achievement Award from the 1994 American Comedy Awards. Rodney's famous trademark white shirt and red tie are on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Aaahhh...respect at last.