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Late-night hosts took time out of Thursday’s shows to pay tribute to fellow comedian Don Rickles, known to fans as “Mr. Warmth.”
Rickles, the legendary comic who died earlier in the day from kidney failure at the age of 90, was also a late-night TV staple for years, appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Late Show with David Letterman several times before he befriended the latest crop of hosts as well.
Jimmy Kimmel started his show with a personal and emotional tribute to his late friend, “the greatest talk show guest of all time.”
“This is not going to be our usual show tonight, and I’ll tell you right up front that I’m going to cry — probably a lot, which is embarrassing — but I’m not good with this sort of thing and I’m sorry, especially to those of you who came here to see the show in person, because that’s probably not what you came for, but we lost someone that we and I love very much today.”
“He was youthful and so funny and sharp and generous, and I was fortunate enough to not only have Don on this show as my guest, but also to become close to him and his wife Barbara, which was a lot of fun for me.”
Kimmel told a story of when Rickles first agreed to appear on his show for Kimmel’s birthday in 2006.
“It was so exciting. I felt like I was in some kind of talk show host fantasy camp,” Kimmel said. “Sitting behind a desk while Don Rickles made fun of me was like being a real talk show host for a minute.”
Kimmel also presented a “Best of Don Rickles” video from his appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Jimmy Fallon briefly paid tribute to the “comedy legend.” “He’s been on The Tonight Show a countless number of times. I’ve personally been out to dinner with him a few times where he said some truly, truly mean things to me. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Though they never met, Stephen Colbert took a moment during his Late Show monologue to honor the late comedian.
“While I didn’t know Don Rickles, I did have the incredible honor to meet him once,” said Colbert, detailing when they met backstage at the Emmys. “He hugged me and told me I was good. And I felt like a made man, because we all should have his career and be who he was, married to his wife, I don’t know, 120 years? So God bless you, Don Rickles, and thank you.”
Late Night’s Seth Meyers paid tribute to “one of the all-time greats,” telling the story of meeting Rickles at a party when he was still on Saturday Night Live. “He just looked at me and said, ‘I’m so sorry to hear Saturday Night Live was canceled.’ And I said that it wasn’t canceled, and he just went, ‘Ugh, a guy can dream.’ ”
“I think there’s nothing better than getting burned by Don Rickles,” Meyers said.
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