Rodney Dangerfield Has Brain Surgery

AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES – Comedian Rodney Dangerfield underwent arterial brain surgery Tuesday to improve his body’s blood flow in preparation for an upcoming heart valve replacement, his publicist said.

The procedure, known as an extracranial-intracranial brain bypass, involves inserting the superficial temporal artery near the ear into the middle cerebral artery of the brain, according to Dangerfield publicist Kevin Sasaki.

“It’s all being done because he does have to have heart valve replacement surgery. He needs to have his blood flow going for that,” Sasaki said.

The roughly eight-hour surgery began Tuesday morning at UCLA Medical Center and was expected to end around 7:30 p.m., he added.

Dangerfield, the 81-year-old bug-eyed standup comic whose self-deprecating schtick always hinges on getting “no respect,” has appeared frail recently, since a heart attack in November 2001.

He has remained active, however, and the straight-to-video release of his latest film, “The Fourth Tenor,” coincidentally took place Tuesday while he was in surgery. Some of his other movies include “Caddyshack,” “Back to School” and “Easy Money.”

Dangerfield is expected to recover after about 10 days of hospitalization. His heart valve surgery is planned about three weeks after that, Sasaki said. “He’s taking care of a lot of things that need to be straightened out,” the publicist said.

The comic displayed a sense of humor about his condition with a statement full of jokes Tuesday.

“After this repair work, I’ll be as good as new, but right now I know I’m in rough shape,” he said. “I joined a weightlifting class … they started me with helium balloons.”