Rodney Dangerfield slips into ''light coma.'' That's how his wife describes the comedian's condition, in the wake of his Aug. 25 heart surgery

By Gary Susman
September 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Even from his publicist, Rodney Dangerfield doesn’t get proper respect. Last week, Kevin Sasaki said Dangerfield had been ”excited” that such comedy stars as Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Jay Leno had come to visit him as he recovered from his Aug. 25 heart surgery. Turns out that the 82-year-old comic’s recovery hasn’t been as rosy as that statement suggested. On Monday, Sasaki issued a statement by Joan Dangerfield, saying, ”My husband slipped into a light coma a couple of weeks ago while recovering from his heart surgery. His overall condition, however, remains stable.”

Dangerfield had a heart valve replaced last month at the UCLA Medical Center. Doctors had been worried enough about the possibility of stroke that they had operated on his brain a year earlier to ensure proper blood flow for the heart surgery. After the August surgery, Dangerfield’s camp had said the comic was expected to make a full recovery, and that he’d been heartened by visits by such fellow comics as Sandler, Carrey, Leno, Roseanne, Louie Anderson, and Bob Saget. ” He’s been excited that people like that are interested,” Sasaki said last week, not mentioning Dangerfield’s coma.

One positive sign, Joan Dangerfield said Monday, is that her husband was finally taken off a ventilator on Sunday and was breathing on his own. ”After recent visits from his family and close friends, Rodney is starting to show signs of awareness and we are all hopeful that he will regain full consciousness soon,” she said. ”Our family remains optimistic that Rodney will make a complete recovery and we are humbled by the love and support we have received during his hospitalization.”