Rodney Dangerfield’s signature catchphrase “I don’t get no respect” is coming into play more than a decade after his death. The late comic’s widow, Joan Dangerfield, says she wants a mural of Rodney removed from a building in his native Queens, New York. According to NY1, Joan Dangerfield says the tribute mural painted by Italian artist Francesca Tosca Robicci is “unacceptable” and “less than flattering.” The painting features Rodney Dangerfield’s face with his signature catchphrase painted beside it Dangerfield’s lawyer has demanded that the mural of Rodney be repainted.
Robicci painted the mural of Rodney Dangerfield on a building across the street from where the comedian lived as a boy, at the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Austin Street in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens. Dangerfield’s wife was in initially full support of the mural, even providing a photo for the artist to work from and donating $1,000 to the project. But after the mural was unveiled last October, Rodney’s widow clearly had a change of tune.
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In an interview posted by CBC, Robicci said she is stunned that her labor of love is being disrespected.
“It was just volunteer work for me and I actually paid for the material I used, but I thought it would be a great gift,” the artist told As It Happens.
“I’m afraid that probably she was expecting something that was actually the exact correspondence to the portrait in the picture. In my opinion, art is not a picture. I was not working on Photoshop. I was painting a wall… and, of course, I have to fill my work with my sensitiveness and my skills and my interpretation.”
Indeed, Joan Dangerfield told the New York Post she wants the mural painted over because it doesn’t do justice to the photo of Rodney that she provided to the artist. In a letter to Robicci and 501, the community group that commissioned the mural, Dangerfield’s lawyer called the painting “an entirely unacceptable image” and a “less-than-flattering portrayal of Rodney, who deserves nothing but the highest respect.”
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“As soon as I saw the image … I laid out the revisions that I thought would help improve it,” Joan Dangerfield said.
While she told the Post she didn’t want to “embarrass the artist,” Dangerfield admitted she was upset Robicci returned to Italy immediately after painting the mural before making the requested changes. Because the painting is based on the photo provide by Joan Dangerfield, Rodney’s widow has legal standing to force its removal.
While Robicci claims she got plenty of “respect” from local Rodney Dangerfield fans while she was painting the mural, she now says she is willing to return to New York re-do the project to appease the late comedian’s widow. But that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it.
“I was not expecting all this issue of this thing that came out as a gift,” Robicci said, according to NY1.
Rodney Dangerfield is not the only New York celebrity who has been memorialized via a less-than-flattering image. In 2015, residents of Lucille Ball’s hometown in Celeron, New York, petitioned to have a “scary” statue of the I Love Lucy star replaced. Dave Poulin, the sculptor behind the scary bronze piece told the Hollywood he was disappointed in his work on the “unsettling” 400-pound bronze Lucy statue that he completed in 2009 and that he never intended to disrespect the comedy legend with the piece that looked nothing like her. While he offered to fix the piece for free, last year, Poulin’s statue was replaced with a brand new, life-size bronze Lucy just in time to commemorate Ball’s 105th birthday. The replacement piece was created by sculptor Carolyn Palmer.
Take a look at the video for more on the Rodney Dangerfield mural.
[Featured Image by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images]