Legendary Comedian Don Rickles, Dead At 90

Don Rickles once remarked, “The old days were the old days. And they were great days. But now is now.”

Words could never be so true with the tragic news that the legendary comic has passed away at the age of 90. Long before we had Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, we had the King of Insults, Don Rickles. Renowned for his legendary jabs at celebrity roasts, the comedian popped up regularly as a guest of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. Kids who grew up on Pixar’s Toy Story movies may not recognized his face but know Rickles as the voice of Mr. Potato Head. He was working on the fourth installment of the lucrative franchise before dying of kidney failure in his Los Angeles home Thursday morning. This, according to his longtime publicist Paul Shefrin.

Born May 8, 1926 in Queens, NY, Rickles, who couldn’t get acting roles, took to stand-up comedy playing clubs in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. It was there where the comedian would begin his trademark insults. The audience would gravitate to the insults instead of prepared material so Rickles would incorporate the insults into his routine.

While Rickles would eventually make it into the movie business (his debut was the 1958 release Run Silent, Run Deep with stars Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster), it is probably his appearances on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, which were broadcast on NBC from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, that cemented his status as an insult comedian. The telecasts were the perfect venue for Rickles to tear into Martin’s other Rat Pack brethren, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope and many others.

During the 1960s, Rickles would appear on such television comedies as The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Gilligan’s Island. Close to forty years after the comedian made his film debut, legendary director Martin Scorsese would cast Rickles in a supporting role in 1995’s Casino. More recently, Rickles would play himself on an episode of The Bernie Mac Show (2002) and The Unit (2007). In 2011, Rickles did guest work on three episodes of Hot in Cleveland starring Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendy Malick, and Betty White.

In the wake of his passing, celebrities have taken to Twitter to remember the legendary comedian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *