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Don Rickles has died

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Lucy Show guest star Don Rickes has died at age 90.

 

Legendary Comic Don Rickles Dies at 90

 

"Mr. Warmth" forged a career when he turned the table in his hecklers, going on to insult everyone he encountered — even Frank Sinatra.

 

Legendary comic Don Rickles, a rapid-fire insulting machine who for six decades earned quite a living making fun of people of all creeds and colors and everyone from poor slobs to Frank Sinatra, has died. He was 90.

 

Rickles died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles of kidney failure, publicist Paul Schrifin announced.

 

Sarcastically nicknamed “Mr. Warmth,” Rickles had mock disdain for stars, major public figures and all those who paid to see him, tweaking TV audiences and Las Vegas showroom crowds with his acerbic brand of takedown comedy. A good guy and devoted husband away from the stage, Rickles the performer heartlessly laid into everyone he encountered — and they loved it.

 

After toiling in relative obscurity for years as a more conventional stand-up comedian, Rickles unwittingly discovered his biggest laughs came when he turned the table on his hecklers. His career then skyrocketed after he insulted the hot-tempered Sinatra, who normally did not take kindly to such treatment.

 

When the superstar singer and actor walked into a Hollywood club in 1957 where Rickles was performing, the comedian greeted the “Chairman of the Board” from the stage: “Make yourself at home Frank. Hit somebody.” Sinatra roared — with laughter.

 

With Sinatra’s endorsement, Rickles began his comedic assault on people famous and not so famous — Jews, Asians, African Americans, the Irish, Puerto Ricans, red-headed women, short guys, you name it — with tremendous results. He referred to stupid people as “hockey pucks,” and in 1959, he signed for his first Las Vegas appearance, in the lounge of the Hotel Sahara.

 

In 1985, when Sinatra was asked to perform at Ronald Reagan’s second Inaugural Ball, he insisted that Rickles accompany him for a comedy routine. Rickles, naturally, did not spare the president (“Am I going too fast for you, Ronnie?” he asked) and considered that performance among the highlights of his career.

 

Rickles was still going strong in June 2012 when, during the American Film Institute’s tribute to actress Shirley MacLaine, he joked that he “shouldn’t make fun of the blacks. President Obama is a personal friend of mine. He was over to the house yesterday, but the mop broke.”

 

Rickles honed his reputation in numerous appearances on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts that ran on NBC from the mid-1970s to the mid-80s. The specials provided a perfect venue for Rickles to unleash his caustic brand of humor on such visiting dignitaries as Sinatra, Reagan, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mr. T.

 

Johnny Carson provided Rickles a late-night stage by making him one of The Tonight Show’s most-frequent guests. On one memorable moment in 1968, Rickles cozied up to a half-naked Carson during a sketch with two Japanese female masseuses and said, “I’m so lonely, Johnny!” Carson threw him in a bathtub. More recently, he was a regular guest on Late Show With David Letterman, in which the CBS host treated Rickles like royalty.

 

Rickles intermittently played in movies, highlighted by Kelly’s Heroes (1970), where he co-starred with Clint Eastwood as Sgt. Crapgame, an Army black-marketer who had no compunction about cutting favorable deals with the Nazis.

 

He also played opposite beach bunny Annette Funicello in such movies as Pajama Party (1964) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), appeared as a Vegas slime-ball in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1975) and voiced the cranky Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.

 

Donald Jay Rickles was born in the New York borough of Queens on May 8, 1926. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then studied acting and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

 

At age 32, Rickles landed a small part in Robert Wise’s submarine drama Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), starring Clark Gable. Two years later, he was cast in The Rat Race with Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds.

 

Not surprisingly, Rickles found there weren’t many leading roles for a paunchy 5-foot-6 balding man. So, he worked up a nightclub act. After his Sinatra encounter, he perfected his bite and would land gigs in all the Vegas hotels: the Riviera, the Golden Nugget, the Desert Inn and the Sahara.

 

Rickles would come onstage accompanied by the old Spanish bullfight song “La Virgen de la Macarena,” a subtle signal that someone was about to be metaphorically gored.

 

Flush with his casino successes, Rickles cut two best-selling comedy albums in the ’60s: Hello, Dummy! and Don Rickles Speaks.

 

Success as a star of his own TV series eluded him. He played Naval Petty Officer Otto Sharkey in NBC’s CPO Sharkey, which ran from 1976-78, and a used car salesman and father of Richard Lewis in Daddy Dearest, quickly canceled by Fox in 1993. He had two series titled The Don Rickles Show; each ran a handful of episodes. For one season in the ’80s, he hosted ABC’s Foul-Ups, Bleeps & Blunders with singer Steve Lawrence.

 

Rickles’ TV guest appearances include episodes of The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., I Dream of Jeannie, I Spy, Get Smart (alongside his buddy, Don Adams), Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Sanford and Son, The Bernie Mac Show and Hot in Cleveland.

 

In 1965, Rickles married Barbara Sklar, who survives him. The couple, who often vacationed with deadpan comic Bob Newhart and his wife, Virginia, had two children, Mindy and Larry. His son, who produced the HBO documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, died in December 2011 at age 41.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/don-rickles-dead-legendary-comic-was-90-720153

 

Poor Bob Newhart. :(

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It was just announced a couple weeks ago that Don was going to host an online streaming talk show with big name guest stars. I wonder if any of that was filmed.

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:( Ridicule In Peace, Mr. Warmth. 

 

Bob and Ginnie's official statement: 

He was called "The Merchant of Venom", but in truth, he was one of the kindest, caring and most sensitive human beings we have ever known. We are devastated and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.

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Antenna TV is going to be airing Don on Carson for the next couple of nights.

Get TV coincidentally has The Friars Roast of Don Rickles scheduled for Monday night.

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It was just announced a couple weeks ago that Don was going to host an online streaming talk show with big name guest stars. I wonder if any of that was filmed.

The morning shows are saying a full season is in the can.

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The morning shows are saying a full season is in the can.

There was a trailer for it online.

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Lucy, the Fight Manager writer Les Roberts reminisces about Don Rickles:

 

"I met him first when I wrote an episode for 'The Lucy Show.' He was the guest star, and Lucille Ball asked me to work on the script with her and make it more of a vehicle for Rickles. Two weeks later, he was a first-time guest on 'Hollywood Squares,' where I was a producer. He was surprised to see me and said, 'How does somebody go from "The Lucy Show" to the toilet in two weeks?'

http://www.cleveland.com/ministerofculture/index.ssf/2017/04/memories_of_insult_comedian_do.html

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That's great. I love how she wanted to make the episode about him. The Frankie Avalon one is very geared towards Frankie. Show off the guest star thinking.

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I loved Don Rickles.  Just a couple years ago he appeared on one of the late-night shows as a guest.  He hadn't lost one beat of his timing, still funny as ever.  I don't think I ever saw this man perform his act without laughing out loud.  The only time I didn't find him all that funny was in his guest appearance on The Lucy Show.  Of course, that was scripted by others and not his own act.  The should have just let him do his own thing in that episode.

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Lucy, the Fight Manager was the first of the California based episodes I saw in its entirety. It was on one of the Laserlight public domain releases, which I got back in 2002 while visiting Texas. At the time, I had no idea who Don Rickles was. I've learned a lot about stars from that era due to their appearances with Lucy.

 

I'm glad he had such a long, full, fulfilling life.

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I loved Don Rickles.  Just a couple years ago he appeared on one of the late-night shows as a guest.  He hadn't lost one beat of his timing, still funny as ever.  I don't think I ever saw this man perform his act without laughing out loud.  The only time I didn't find him all that funny was in his guest appearance on The Lucy Show.  Of course, that was scripted by others and not his own act.  The should have just let him do his own thing in that episode.

A tearful Jimmy Kimmel reran a great but all-too-brief "tribute" to his friend and fellow comic Rickles on his show last night, highlighting his many appearances on his show over the years.  It was pretty fun (and now of course, a bit sad) and made me want to see a lot more.

 

Last appearance I caught was very recent, when he and another good friend John Stamos appeared together.  It was nice to see the respect and reverence for Rickles -- not to mention the obvious affection -- that the much younger Stamos had for elder Rickles.  Most enjoyable. :lucyblah:

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