Don Rickles, legendary comedian and actor, dies at 90
Don Rickles, the long-time comedian and actor, who particularly made a name for himself as a celebrity roaster, died at the age of 90 on Thursday morning at his home in Los Angeles from kidney failure, his longtime publicist Paul Shefrin confirmed to Variety and TMZ.
Just this past February, in an interview with Closer Weekly, the comedian said he was still working on new material with plans to continue performing: “Honestly, I didn’t realize it — all of a sudden I was 90. The years skipped by quickly. When it happened, I said, ‘Where did the time go?’ At 90, I’m still going pretty damn good. And it’s nice because I have no plans to slow down.”
Bob Newhart and his wife Ginnie, who were close friends of Rickles’, released a statement Thursday: “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. We are devastated, and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.”
Rickles found his big break on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson in 1965, going on to forge an illustrious career in comedy, even becoming a welcome addition to Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack.
The comedian made several attempts at television series over the years, with the short-lived Kibbe Hates Finch, The Don Rickles Show and C.P.O. Sharkey, but made his most memorable screen appearances in Archie Bunker’s Place, The Lucy Show, F Troop, Casino and as the beloved but aptly curmudgeon Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story.
He penned his memoir, Rickles’ Book, in 2007, and won an Emmy Award in 2008 for Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, an HBO documentary chronicling his life and work.
Rickles was last honoured in May 2014 by David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart in Spike TV’s One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles.
Rickles married Barbara Sklar in 1965, and the two remained together until his death. The couple had two children, Mindy and Larry, who died of complications from pneumonia in 2011.