Don Rickles, legendary comedian known for caustic wit, dies at 90

Throughout Thursday, celebrity tributes poured in for Don Rickles, who died at the age of 90.

Photo of Don Rickles taken by Jimi Celeste.

"Don Rickles, you kept us laughing for so many years".

Rickles, who earned the nickname "Mr. Warmth", was a regular on "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "The Dean Martin Show" shows. "At the end of the meal, he said, 'I can't believe you took me to a pizza place'".

"Don Rickles was one the absolute greats". The two duet on a charming number where they wish for some space from their other half.

"He said, 'This would be great for you and Barbara, '" Rickles recalled.

Rickles, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, also built a resume as an actor, making his film debut as a junior officer alongside Clark Cable and Burt Lancaster in the 1958 submarine drama "Run Silent, Run Deep". He operated under a code as old the Borscht Belt: Go far - ethnic jokes, sex jokes, ribbing Carson for his many marriages - but make sure everyone knows it's for fun.

And you have got to be amusing to get away with it. However, Rickles never stopped doing what he truly loved, which was stand-up.

Taking to his talk show stage just hours after Don Rickles died at the age of 90, the host warned viewers right away that tears would most likely be shed during his monologue.

Rickles was performing in a Miami Beach nightclub when he met Frank Sinatra.

Dubbed "The King of the Insult Comics" and, sarcastically, "Mr. Warmth", Rickles enjoyed a lengthy career that began in television and movies in the 1950s and continued until his death.

RICKLES: Will Rogers once said, I never picked on a little guy, only big people.

Rickles was born in New York City on May 8, 1926, to Max and Etta Rickles, according to an official biography from the comedian's spokesperson.

"It's sweet of you, Dave - I know your busy schedule of going to the bank and trying to figure out what the hell you do".

There has been an outpouring of grief from celebrities - comedians and actors alike - in the wake of Rickles' death.

"What keeps me going is that young people still want to see me, which is flattering and great", he said.

He also appeared in a series of movies including Clint Eastwood's 1970 film "Kelly's Heroes" and Martin Scorcese's 1995 film "Casino".

And another fan, Rob Carpentier of Clifton, noted, "He's the only man who could insult Frank Sinatra and live to tell about it". Rickles? He was a chronicler of our discomfort with modernity as he made fun of Italians, the Irish, Blacks, Latinos, Jews, his wife, your shirt, your inability to answer quickly enough when he called you out.

Val Kilmer posted: "God bless Don Rickles".

Rickles became the unofficial court jester of Sinatra's Rat Pack, ridiculing his singing, his love life and his alleged connections to organized crime.

Indeed, when asked about how he wanted to be remembered, Rickles put aside the humour. I'm emotional; I'm caring; I'm loyal.

Rickles had a small family with his wife, Barabara and their daughter Mindy Mann and her husband Ed, as well as two grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison Mann.

  • Larry Hoffman