Hollywood Pays Tribute to Don Rickles

"90 years with Don Rickles wasn't enough," wrote Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter.

Legendary comedian Don Rickles died on Thursday of kidney failure. He was 90.

The comic, whose career spanned six decades, was sarcastically nicknamed "Mr. Warmth" for his razor-sharp wit and biting mock disdain for Hollywood stars, notables and heads of state. After years of struggling on the comedy circuit, Rickles found his niche when he turned the tables on his hecklers and his career skyrocketed when he insulted legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, who traditionally did not take kindly to ribald ribbing from comedians.

For decades, Rickles continued to push the boundaries of comedy and poke fun at the famous and non-famous alike. He 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.”

Fellow comic and master of the deadpan delivery Bob Newhart and his wife Ginnie often vacationed with Rickles and his wife, Barbara. "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," the Newharts said in a statement. "We are devastated, and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this."

Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese, who directed Rickles in the 1995 film Casino, said, "Don Rickles was a giant, a legend…and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty. I had the honor of working with him on my picture Casino. He was a professional. He kept me doubled over with laughter every day on the set - yet he was a complete pro. We became friends over the years and I had the honor of being roasted by him more than once - sometimes when I didn’t expect it. He just started showing up at places and insulting me. Experiencing Don, and tuning into his mind, I witnessed the evolution of his comedy. It was like listening to a great jazz musician wail. Nobody else did what he did. He made comedy into an art form. And like all geniuses, comic or otherwise, he’s irreplaceable. He was much loved. I’m really missing this man.”

Robert De Niro said in a statement: “I'm a little disappointed with Don. He had promised me he would live to be at least 95. In all seriousness, he was not only a great friend, he was a great man with a great heart. I really loved the guy. I will miss him."

Comedian Rip Taylor said, "A legend is gone and there will never be anyone like him again."

Impressionist Rich Little, who appeared with Rickles on multiple Dean Martin roasts, remembered his time with the comic legend. "Having done 24 Dean Martin roasts, I know without a doubt that Don Rickles was the greatest comedian of all time. There were few, if any, that were quicker than Don. He didn't think of the next line he would use, he was already thinking of the line after that. There were many times on the roast that I literally fell out of my chair laughing. In private life, Don was a very nice man. There will never be another man like him."

“All of us at AARP Studios are immensely saddened with the passing of Don Rickles," said AARP vice president Jeff Eagle in a statement. "We had the distinct pleasure of recently working with Don on our upcoming series Dinner with Don. Don was known for his biting, acerbic humor and we feel lucky enough to have experienced that first-hand. He was also a thoughtful, kind and generous colleague and friend. Don continued to make audiences laugh throughout his life and career and his legacy will live on. We send our condolences to his family and longtime industry colleagues.”

Rickles was remembered and honored by many Hollywood stars and friends as the news broke. "90 years with Don Rickles weren't enough. One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already," Jimmy Kimmel wrote on Twitter.

On social media, Hollywood paid tribute to the legendary comedian: 

 

comments powered by Disqus