Don Rickles

Legendary comedian, actor and author

An American stand-up comedian and actor, famous as an insult comic with a controversial humor and snappy wit, a regular on celebrity roast circuits.

Legendary comedian, actor and author, Donald Jay Rickles, whose career spanned six decades, became world-famous by warmly insulting his audience.

He was one of the most respected and popular guest on numerous talk and variety shows, including The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show, and Late Show with David Letterman. Rickles later voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise. He won a Prime-time Emmy Award for the 2007 documentary, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.

One of the world’s most gifted comedians, Donald Jay Rickles, died from kidney failure, aged 90, on April 6, 2017, at his home in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Name:   Donald  Rickles
Born:   8 May 1926
Star Sign: Taurus
Died:   6 April 2017
Birthplace: New York City
Country: New York (NY) United States
DetailsOther Names
Max Rickles
Etta Rickles née Feldman
On March 14, 1965, Rickles married Barbara Sklar of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
daughter: Mindy Mann - a brilliant comedian, and son: Larry Rickles (1970- 2011) grandchildren: Ethan and Harrison Mann

Young Don
Donald Jay Rickles, was born on May 8, 1926, in New York City, the only child of Jewish parents, Max Rickles, and Etta Feldman. Rickles grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II, and served in the Philippines. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Hitting the Comedy Circuit.
After the navy, Rickles studied acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York As there were a few acting gigs, he started hitting the comedy circuit. Insulted by hecklers, Rickles abandoned his prepared materials and instead responding to them.

People enjoyed his quick wit, so Rickles soon developed an act that consisted of loudly poking fun at audience members, and the audiences were amused by his quick-witted delivery and took delight at being insulted.

Early in his career while working in the "Murray Franklin's" nightclub in Miami Beach, Rickles saw Frank Sinatra and gave Sinatra the Rickles treatment: "Make yourself at home, Frank, hit somebody!" Frank Sinatra, found his insults hilarious and became a powerful fan, recruiting notables to pay for the privilege of being insulted by the quick wit wise-cracker. Sinatra's support helped Rickles become a popular headline performer in Las Vegas.

Film Career
In 1959, Rickles started performing regularly in Las Vegas. He also embarked on a film career in the World War II drama, 'Run Silent, Run Deep' (1958). He starred in the 'The Rat Race' in 1960, and in several teen-oriented beach movies, such as 'Bikini Beach' in 1964. He also appeared on a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast special, and was among those who took part in roasting, Sinatra.

In the mid-1960s, Rickles made guest appearances on numerous TV sitcoms and also on 'The Tonight Show.' In 1972, he starred in 'The Don Rickles Show'; C.P.O. Sharkey from 1976 to1978; and the 1993, 'Daddy Dearest' about a combative father-son relationship. Rickles also starred in the 1970, madcap war adventure 'Kelly’s Heroes.'

Career Highlight
In 1985, Sinatra was to sing for President Reagan second inaugural ball. The singer demanded Don Rickles open for him, or he wouldn’t perform; so Rickles performed at Ronald Reagan's Second Inaugural Ball, which was one of the highlight of his career. He also appeared at the inauguration of George H.W. Bush in 1989.

Mr. Potato Head
In 1995, Rickles was in Martin Scorsese’s mob drama 'Casino', and 'the Toy Story' series of animated films (1995, 1999, 2010), in which he voiced the character of Mr. Potato Head. On October 17, 2000, Don Rickles gets a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

'Rickles’ Book'
Rickles and Newhart appeared together on the television sitcom 'Newhart' and for previous episodes of 'The Tonight Show,' where Newhart or Rickles were guest-hosts. In 2007, the comedian’s memoir, 'Rickles’ Book,' was published. John Landis directed a documentary on Rickles - 'Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,' which debuted on HBO the same year.

Rickles won an Emmy for his individual performance. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 2008 for the documentary film ‘Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project’.

Final Curtain
On May 28, 2014, Rickles was honored in the Spike TV special 'One Night Only' - an All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles. Rickles was still a popular guest on late night talk shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live. The later months of his life, Rickles also appeared in 'The Tonight Show' starring Jimmy Fallon.

On May 11, 2015, Rickles appeared as a guest on one of the final episodes of The Late Show with David Letterman. He also made an appearance on a new show called 'Grandfatherland'.' Don has surely set the bar high for stand-up comedians aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

Family and Friends
On March 14, 1965, Rickles married Barbara Sklar, a secretary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They had two children, Mindy and Larry Rickles. According to Rickles' memoir, his grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison Mann, are much more impressed by his role as Mr. Potato Head than by any of his other achievements.

Rickles died at age 90 of kidney failure on April 6. Bob and Ginnie Newhart who had been his friends for more than 50 years said, 'Rickles 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.'

Rickles graduated from the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Among his classmates were Jason Robards, Anne Bancroft, and Grace Kelly.

He became an insult comic almost by accident. He discovered that the paying crowds liked (and laughed more) at his insult shtick than his stand-up routine, so he stuck with it.

He did his first movie with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. A grade "A" film project, a submarine drama called Run Silent, Run Deep starring two movie legends-

Rickles got the role in Run Silent, Run Deep because of an automobile accident.

He even insulted the Beatles.

Although Don played Las Vegas for over 50 years, he never gambled. "I never gambled a penny. I can't play cards. I never bet." said Don.

He was immortalized in two comic books.

Rickles was the only comedian in the world who was backed by a 14-piece band.

His last Tweet was to his beloved wife. "We are celebrating our 52nd wedding anniversary March 14th. Happy anniversary to my dear wife, Barbara. you are my life. x pussycat (me)."

Rickles did not think of himself as an "insult comic." He said his act was all in fun and that his barbs were exaggerations delivered with good humor.

"You can't study comedy; it's within you. It's a personality. My humor is an attitude."

"When you stand alone and sell yourself, you can't please everyone. But when you're different, you can last."

"Struggling is hard because you never know what's at the end of the tunnel."

"I've never had a writer, and I'm proud of that. Everything I've per­formed has been from my own head."

"If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn't be funny, there is a difference between an actual insult and just having fun."

"You throw your best punch—otherwise, don't do it."

"Whatever you do to gain success, you have to hang in there and hope good things happen. Always think positive."

"Why should I retire? I'm like a fighter. The bell rings and you come out and fight."

"When I got out of high school, I wanted to be an actor but was getting a lot of rejections. I was getting rejected by life. My mother, God rest her soul, told me not to quit."

"My wife is great. She always goes to the bank to see if the check has cleared."


Legendary comedian and actor, Don Rickles passed away, aged 90, on April 6, 2017, of kidney failure, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. A national treasure, Don Rickles was interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, United States.

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